Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Life Saving Airlifts

In the far-flung hill and mountain settlements, basic requirements of life are still far from available. Life standard thus lags behind in sharp contrast to the facilities people deserve in the 21st century. There is a huge gap between the remote village, the district headquarters and the capital. Some villages in the western hills and mountains are still out of the road network, and as a result, it takes days to get to the district headquarters. Human settlements located in such nooks and crannies lack essential medical facilities including birthing centres, maternity posts and midwives. Many women, who develop pregnancy and child birth complications die in absence of urgent medical help.

However, women struggling between life and death in such emergencies are rescued and treated now. So, precious lives of mothers and infants are saved. This has been possible thanks to the President Women Upliftment Programme (PWUP) that airlifts such women in distress from remote areas away from road network and takes them to the well-equipped medical facilities for treatment. Since the programme was launched 13 months ago, 54 women with pregnancy and post-partum complications were rescued from the remote districts of Humla, Dolpa, Kalikot, Jajarkot, Mugu, Achham and Bajura.

Had there been no immediate airlift to the nearest medical facility, these women and their infants might have succumbed to the life threatening situations they were in. A news report carried by this daily on Thursday brings to light a touching case of a woman in Chankheli of Humla district who was struggling with death as her labour pain prolonged for four days. Even a local health post could not ease her case due to insufficient manpower, medicines and equipment to perform a caesarian operation she needed. Getting to the district headquarters Simikot would take four days and the worst might happen on the way. Under the PWUP, she was airlifted by a helicopter from her isolated village and admitted at Surkhet Hospital. The mother and infant were saved.

This may not be the case in all the areas with roads and runways but there are many isolated villages where women are forced to give birth at home. Regular maternity services and supply of nutritious diets may not be available during their pregnancy. The help of midwives and women health workers may not be available. In some cases, a visit to the nearest health post may take hours. We are talking about birthing kits and well trained midwives but they are not available in some remote corners. And when complications such as prolonged labour pain, excessive bleeding and stalled discharge of placenta arise, the lives of mother and infant are in danger. Rushing the woman to a well-equipped medical facility is only the answer.

According to the news report, majority of the rescued women are of ages between 20 and 30 years though there are also those below 20 years of age. Sex education and reproductive health awareness should reach the remote communities to prevent early pregnancies and pregnancy-related complications. Early pregnancies are more prevalent in areas where child marriages are still in vogue. In addition to education and awareness, law enforcement and fight against social stigmas are also needed to minimise such problems.