This paper describes an emergency transport initiative in rural northern Nigeria which aims to save the lives of women affected by maternal complications. The Emergency Transport Scheme (ETS), implemented by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), is a public-private partnership supported by the UK aid and Norwegian Government funded Partnership for Reviving Routine Immunization in Northern Nigeria and the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative (PRRINN-MNCH).
The scheme is providing a culturally appropriate, affordable, and timely solution to the severe physical access barriers faced by numerous pregnant rural women who need to be transferred promptly to a health facility. Many maternal deaths have been averted in the two and half years since the scheme’s establishment. The scheme has excellent prospects for being sustained at community level. If current efforts to deepen the institutional ownership of the ETS are successful, there is enormous scope for scaling up the initiative at national level in future. This paper looks at the achievements and challenges faced by the ETS so far and considers the steps that are needed to secure the scheme’s future.