Alozio the Ambulance Rider

Posted on by Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda

 

This is the third installment in a five-part series about efforts to save the lives of mothers in Africa through an initiative called Saving Mothers, Giving Life. Be sure to read the other four blog posts in this series.
 

Ndolereire Alozio and his ambulance (Photo: CDC-Uganda)
Ndolereire Alozio and his ambulance (Photo: CDC-Uganda)

In a perfect world, the closest fully-staffed, fully-equipped hospital is 15 miles or less away when a woman goes into labor. Uganda is not a perfect world, which is why Ndolereire Alozio is considered a critical part of both Uganda’s transportation network and its public health system.

Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda
Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda

Alozio drives a three-wheeled or “tricycle” ambulance that is crucial for Saving Mothers, Giving Life’s goal of reducing Uganda’s high maternal death rate. He’s also well qualified; a former taxi driver from Kibaale District who brought great passion to the new job.

CDC provides support and training for the “tricycle” ambulance riders which are strategically placed at high-volume, lower-level health centers. They are linked to traditional, high-speed ambulances that SMGL sees as a way to address a critical shortage of transportation for pregnant women.

Alozio’s commitment has won him the hearts of many in his rural community and drawn the appreciation of local health workers and government officials. Mfashingabo Steven, Secretary for Health and Vice Chairperson of the district, expressed his gratitude to Alozio during a local ambulance management meeting at Kagadi Hospital: “All the riders should emulate the good work and dedication exhibited by Alozio; we often receive calls from the community appreciating the way he responds to emergencies.”

The praise isn’t gratuitous or undeserved.

Alozio has worked tirelessly in a community where the mothers once uniformly ignored him, calling instead traditional birth attendants for deliveries.

Today, that trend has been reversed as word-of-mouth and Alozio’s dedication have now made him the first choice. He is credited with saving the lives of 44 mothers by transporting them miles over difficult terrain to more modern health facilities. His total is nearly double the average of “saves” claimed by other riders.

One reason is he’s tireless. Alozio wakes up every morning before dawn to jog three miles before heading to his duty station about half a mile from his home. He then begins his 10-hour shift. The schedule, he says accounts for the “spring in his step” and makes him alert and ever ready.

That means he’s in high demand. Now local health leaders tend to call him first when mothers are in danger and threatening circumstances arise. 

There’s also a growing legend surrounding Alozio’s exploits. He once picked up a mother named Tumwendereze who was in her second stage of labor and an epileptic despite a blinding rainfall.

Ayesiga Alice, the midwife who tended to the mother on arrival, noted the mother would not have survived without his effort. By the time the ambulance reached her, Tumwendereze was in convulsions. Alozio maintained contact with the Kagadi Hospital-based ambulance team all the while he transported the mother to Mpeefu Health Center IV where she was transferred to the fully equipped ambulance which took her to the hospital.

There she was stabilized and later Tumwendereze delivered a healthy baby boy.

“When a mother bleeds to death, her nation bleeds, and all of these deaths are preventable.” – Lois Quam, former Executive Director of the U.S. Global Health Initiative

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is a U.S. Government initiative that addresses the needs of mothers in labor, delivery, and the first 24 hours postpartum – the time period in which an estimated 60 percent of maternal deaths and 50 percent of neonatal deaths occur. This initiative was launched in Uganda and Zambia as a pilot project in 2011 under the auspices of the Global Health Initiative.

SMGL draws upon the core strengths and specialized expertise of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. State Department. This public-private partnership also involves Merck, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Every Mother Counts, the Government of Norway, and its newest partner, Project CURE. Central to the partnership are the Governments of Uganda and Zambia.

Posted on by Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-UgandaTags , ,
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2021
Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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