From Ahmed Idris Birnin Kebbi
No fewer than 13, 771 pregnant women and children under five years have benefited from UNICEF and European Union (EU)-supported Emergency Transport Scheme (ETS) in Kebbi State between 2017 and 2019.
Malam Yusuf Yahuza, ETS Programme Officer, state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency, made this known while interacting with journalists on the successes of the scheme In Birnin Kebbi yesterday.
Yahuza explained that the ETS was inaugurated in 2017 to specifically convey pregnant women and children under five years in emergency to the nearest health facility for prompt medical attention.
Described the scheme “a huge success”, Yahuza said that the main goal was to reduce delay from community to the nearest health centre, particularly hard-to-reach areas with no health facility.
He said that the scheme was under the UNICEF and EU-supported Maternal, New-born, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) project, designed to improve women and children’s access to primary healthcare services.
He said that the ETS was being implemented in partnership with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Ministry of Health and the State’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
Others are Ministry of Women Affairs, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), and the Nigeria Police.
He said that a total of 21 focal persons and 675 drivers were trained and equipped by UNICEF and EU to implement the scheme in 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
According to him, a total of 3,430 women and children were so far transported under the scheme in 2017; 5,181 in 2018; and 5,160 in 2019.
“The figures comprised of 10,556 pregnant women who were mostly in labour and 3,250 children suffering from various child killer diseases that requires emergency attention.”
One of the ETS drivers, Alhaji Mohammed Sifawa, described the scheme as “a service to humanity.”
The Secretary, NURTW, Argungu LGA, Alhassan Aliyu, said that the ETS drivers who carry out such services were made to load their vehicles before any other drivers as incentives.
Aliyu explained that the drivers were attached to specific communities and their phone numbers shared among community members to call during labour or emergency for immediate transportation to the hospitals.
According to him, the scheme has helped in building relationship between community members and the drivers, adding that the relationship is helping to save lives of women and children.
Also speaking, the Director, Road Traffic, VIO, Aminu Mohammed, said that the role of the VIO was to ensure that the drivers were qualified and licensed.