MAZA’s work in our second district – Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo (BY), Northern Region, Ghana – is 10 months old. If MAZA were a child we would be standing and perhaps walking by now, albeit a bit unsteadily. It has been an enriching 10 months with a good mix of successes and challenges.
In April 2017, we started out with 12 motorized tricycles strategically located in three of the five sub-districts of BY which serve an estimated population of 92,000. About 3,700 women are expected to be pregnant in this catchment area in any given year and their access to skilled health care is limited to two health centres that are staffed by midwives and one hospital where they could receive comprehensive emergency obstetric care (e.g. Caesarean section performed by a medical doctor) if needed.
We are pleased to report that since we launched in BY in April 2017, MAZA drivers have transported 311 passengers in need of urgent or emergency health care to local health facilities; these occurred during 277 rides as some trips had more than one person in need of medical care (see Figure 1). As shown in Figure 2, about 60% of our passengers were labour cases while an additional 32% were sick infants and pregnant women with complications in the antepartum (i.e. before delivery) and postpartum (i.e. after delivery) periods in descending order (18%, 10.6% and 3.5%). The average distance travelled round-trip was 26 kilometres (range 4 to 88 km) while the average number of health transportation rides per driver in the 10-month period of operations is 22. We have also been very pleased with our drivers’ reliability in responding to calls from MAZA’s toll-free dispatchers and the excellent customer service skills they have shown to our passengers.
We currently have nine tricycles in operation as we have had to confiscate three of them due to the drivers failing to pay their loan to MAZA for several months. This has affected our service delivery as evidenced by a slight decline in our weekly passenger average from seven to six over the past few months. We are in the process of refurbishing those vehicles to assign to new drivers in the next few weeks.
Following frequent breakdowns of the tricycle engines due to the harsh road conditions in BY, coupled with local mechanics not using the right specifications of spare parts, MAZA liaised with the tricycle manufacturer, Apsonic, to train members of the Mechanic Union Association and MAZA drivers on how to correctly maintain and service their vehicles. In all, 11 mechanics and MAZA drivers were trained in December 2017. At the end of the training, the Apsonic team expressed their willingness to partner with someone from BY district to become an Apsonic spare parts agent. Also, the Apsonic team agreed to sell new engines to MAZA drivers at half the market price so that drivers experiencing regular breakdowns could change their engines to enhance the smooth running of the work.
Next month, MAZA’s independent evaluator, the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University for Development Studies in Tamale will be conducting an endline evaluation of MAZA’s service in BY. They will interview MAZA drivers, families of pregnant women and infants as well as farmers and traders to gain insights into how effective MAZA’s motorized tricycles have been to the communities served and solicit any suggestions for improvement. We will be sure to provide the evaluation findings and how they will influence our planning for the future in our next progress report.
Thanks to all our generous donors and supporters, MAZA raised over US $18,000 during the end-of-year giving season. It is never too late to donate though; please visit our Donation Page for more information.
MAZA is partnering closely with the local communities, the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Ambulance Service and the Navrongo Health Research Centre which is testing a similar intervention in two of the sub-districts. Both MAZA and NHRC are funded by the USAID Systems for Health Project in Ghana.
We are grateful for the support of the following partners for our work in BY: