IMPACT
10/02/2013 04:19 pm ET Updated Oct 02, 2013

Donkey Ambulances Are A Thing, And They Could Save A Lot Of Moms And Babies

Afghanistan has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the world, a devastating fact that could potentially be reversed with the recently developed donkey ambulance.

One in 11 women in Afghanistan die of causes related to pregnancy and birth during her childbearing years, according to WHO, mainly due to issues related to poverty, cultural barriers and inaccessibility to proper medical care.

To at least eliminate one problem -- the fact that many pregnant women don’t have access to transportation that could take them over the rocky Afghanistan terrain to medical centers when they’re giving birth – HealthProm, a British charity that’s working to reduce child and maternal mortality and designer Peter Muckle invented the donkey ambulance, so that they can travel safely to a hygienic center.

donkey ambulance

Photo: HealthProm/Facebook

Since there is an abundance of donkeys in Afghanistan, and they’re able to handle traveling through the area’s mountainous terrain, Muckle figured attaching a secure saddle to the animal could safely, and inexpensively, get a woman in labor to the hospital.

The saddle, where the woman sits, is composed of inflatable camping cushions and the U-shaped support is made of a pool lounger. The entire contraption costs about $100 to make.

Muckle told the BBC that he’s gotten a “positive” response from women who have used it and hopes local developers will recreate the product once it takes off.

"It's a pattern that I've made, so it's something that we are not selling really as a saddle -- we're giving the pattern to people to copy," Muckle told the Atlantic. "So the idea is to make it a simple pattern that works very well [and] that people can make themselves."

Feeling inspired? Find out how you can support HealthProm's mission to bring donkey ambulances to Afghanistan here.

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