An 'Uber For Pregnant Women' Is Saving Countless Lives In Tanzania

In Tanzania, a woman giving birth may walk for two days in search of basic medical services

In all but the largest Tanzanian cities, very few ambulances are available to respond to medical emergencies, leaving many in search of other options. The issue has become extremely difficult for pregnant women. Cars still remain a precious resource in many areas, and should a woman going into labor get the attention of an ambulance, it still might not arrive if they deem another matter more pressing than childbirth.

However, where resources are scarce, ingenuity takes over. Mobile phone carrier Vodaphone worked with officials in Tanzania’s rural Lake Zone to start a cottage industry of “ambulance taxis” which help meet the excess demand of those in need of emergency medicine.

The system works like Uber (sort of). It’s less automated, but it gets the job done. A woman will call a phone number to reach medical professionals. Should they decide the birthing mother should seek medical attention, the professionals ping a network of prevetted taxi drivers who are paid in advance using a popular payment app. The drivers then pick up the woman in need and take her to the hospital or clinic that suits her.

The service also serves as a mode of transport among medical facilities in Tanzania as well. With so many health centers lacking in basic services, patients are often treated as best they can, then sent to more comprehensive medical centers. The distance can be hundreds of miles, a trek that local ambulances can’t afford to make. Here again, the ambulance taxi service picks up the slack and transports patients.


In Tanzania, 454 women out of 100,000 die from complications during childbirth—among the highest mortality rate in the world. With so few residents living in urban centers, transport to medical care has been a profound barrier to quality care.

The new program has worked out very well both for patients, who now have access to more reliable transport, and for drivers, who—after being prescreened—earn $40 per run, with half paid up front and half paid when the patient is dropped off at the hospital.

Prior to this network of crowdsourced “ambulances,” something as routine as childbirth could require a two-day journey by foot to receive even substandard medical care. While ambulance taxis are certainly no substitute for a widespread network of EMTs and vehicles, the program is making great strides in getting basic health care to those who need it.

via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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The Planet
Julian Meehan

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This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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Climate Action Tracker

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The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

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The Planet

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

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Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

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