MAZA tricycles at the Bunkpurugu Health Center.

MAZA tricycles at the Bunkpurugu Health Center.

One of my biggest motivations in pursuing a public health career and degree is the opportunity to contribute to the existing efforts across the country to improve maternal, infant, and child health in the nation. MAZA has afforded me this opportunity with this summer practicum. MAZA is a social enterprise that provides safe, accessible, affordable and reliable transportation for urgent and emergency health care needs in remote rural areas of Ghana, with a focus on pregnant women and sick infant. They lease motorized tricycles to local drivers at a discounted price in exchange for their being on call for urgent/emergency health care transportation twice a week. For the other five days of the week, the drivers use the tricycles as taxis to earn a living and pay a weekly fee to MAZA. After two years, they own the tricycles outright. MAZA’s service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a toll-free number or by direct contact with the local drivers.

A community in the Bindi Subdistrict of the Bunkpurugup Yunyoo District.

Another community in the Bindi Subdistrict of the Bunkpurugup Yunyoo District.

A community in the Bindi Subdistrict of the Bunkpurugup Yunyoo District.

A community in the Bindi Subdistrict of the Bunkpurugup Yunyoo District.

MAZA has been in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District for a year now and has provided transportation during emergency/urgent health care needs for over 200 passengers since. My practicum is a field assessment focused on exploring the geographical limits of MAZA’s intervention in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District. My first week in the Northern Region was spent in the field in Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo collecting location data of MAZA drivers and passengers to investigate the distance between drivers commute to pick up passengers and take them to a health care center during emergencies. Working in this part of Ghana – rural, open, bright, unlike what I’m used to in the capital city of Accra – has been nothing short of exciting.

about to cross the river behind me into Togo. The river acts as a physical boundary between Ghana and Togo in one of the communities in Bunkpurugu.

About to cross the river behind me into Togo. The river acts as a physical boundary between Ghana and Togo in one of the communities in Bunkpurugu.

Little did I know there are communities in this part of the country, that have existed for decades, are now divided by superficial international border lines delineating Ghana from Togo. There are literally families living in the same community with one family’s house in Togo and the other in Ghana. Wild right? That’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve encountered here. As such, there are families technically living in Togo that have benefited from MAZA’s services because they are a part of a community that is also Ghanaian and visit the health facilities in Ghana.

This week, I go back to the rural areas for the second part of the project – community assessment. Looking forward to sharing those experiences with you all.

 

-Edith