International development organisation Transaid is on track to achieve exceptional results in its Emergency Transport Scheme (ETS) in Adamawa State, Nigeria, with its programme staggeringly transporting more than 16,500 pregnant women to a registered health facility since the scheme began in July 2013.

Results from an ETS user survey conducted last year saw 5,955 trips recorded – the highest number in a 12-month period since the scheme began – with 90 per cent of local women interviewed stating that they were transported to, and delivered at, a health facility.

Statistics also show that 97 per cent of requests for transporting a pregnant woman to a health facility were arranged within 30 minutes, and 89 per cent of those then completed the journey to a health facility within a further 30-minute period.

In 2007, UNICEF announced that the current Adamawa Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 1,549 deaths per 100,000 live births was significantly higher than the national rate. The ETS was set up specifically to address this, and Caroline Barber, Chief Executive at Transaid, hopes it can continue to bring this number down: “The number of women using the service is increasing year on year, alongside the number of successful cases, which is an encouraging sign for the sustainability of the scheme.”

Since the start, 741 drivers have been trained in how to correctly lift and transport pregnant women to the health facilities. The service offered by the drivers is free of charge, with 96 per cent of ETS drivers – taxi drivers by trade – not asking for payment at the end of the journey.

Transaid also works in collaboration with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and Ministry of Transport. Due to the originality of the ETS intervention, an increasing number of NGOs have shown an interest in collaborating to upscale the scheme to include additional Local Government Areas (LGA).


Commenting on the support received in Adamawa, Barber adds: “Without the collective commitment and proactive approach from our stakeholders we would not have achieved these astonishing results, which have genuinely helped to save lives. This extends directly to the ETS drivers, as without their selfless commitment to the scheme, we would not have achieved anywhere near the level of transfers we see today.”


The ETS sets out to provide an affordable, accessible and safe transport service for women facing a maternal health emergency. It received a £1 million grant from Comic Relief in 2013 which was used to set up the scheme. The grant was announced at Transaid’s 15th anniversary celebrations and, as the organisation approaches its 20th year, Transaid will continue to grow the initiative to achieve, the projected number of transfers.


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