Kenyan Medic -Jemimah Kariuki- Wins WHO Director-General’s Award for Global Health 2021
A 28-year-old Kenyan doctor who organised an ambulance service that enabled over 1,000 pregnant women to access maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic has been feted.
Jemimah Kariuki was named the winner of the World Health Organisation (WHO) General’s Award for Global Health 2021 in recognition of her contribution to advancing maternal health.
“Thank you so much WHO most especially the Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom for awarding the effort and all my colleagues and partners for making it possible. For the young in society, this shows you can make it. And to all pregnant women the world cares about your life,” she appreciated.
Kariuki is a Kenyan doctor specialising in preventive medicine, maternal and child health. The former Pangani Girls’ High School and the University of Nairobi alumnus is is a resident doctor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Kenyatta National Hospital.
During the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing curfew, Kariki realised pregnant mothers would not easily access health care services give the COVID-19 restrictions.
As a maternity doctor, she noticed a sharp decline in maternal patients, but an increase in complications, especially during the hours of curfew.
These statistics bothered her so much that in April 2020, she decided to put up a tweet calling all pregnant mothers who needed emergency services to call on her.
“I realised there were many women coming in with a lot of complications and when one woman died, it really prompted me to do something. The resultant effect was that I had very many calls from the general public,” she told Citizen TV sometime in 2020.
Seven other doctors joined hands with Kariuki in the initiative but soon they realised they needed more than just a taxi service.
This idea led to Wheels for Life, a free ambulance service.
Wheels for Life brings together a dedicated team of health care professionals who are equipped to triage patients in maternal health via telecommunication, and identify levels of emergency