By Narendra Dhakal Gorkha, Apr. 11: Family members of Uma Gurung, a resident of Ward No. 3 of Chumanuwri Rural Municipality of Gorkha district, had collected Rs. 140,000 to charter a helicopter for transporting her to a hospital in Kathmandu.
Gurung was undergoing treatment at Sirdibas Health Post when the health personnel referred her to Kathmandu citing lack of manpower and equipment to continue her treatment. Gurung’s relatives had no choice other than chartering a helicopter to reach Kathmandu because their village is not connected by road. She was brought to Kathmandu on Thursday but she died during treatment on the same day.
The relatives wanted to conduct the final rituals of Gurung in their own village due to which they needed to charter a helicopter again. “We needed Rs. 140,000 again to take her body. We didn’t have the money due to which we sought help from fellow Gorkhalis living in Kathmandu alongside our kin,” said Nabin Gurung, a relative of the deceased.
According to Jonisha Gurung, another relative of the deceased who studies in Kathmandu, they received the needed amount as support from many helping hands and used it to transport Gurung’s body to Chumanuwri, a far-flung northern area of Gorkha.
The northern village has not been connected with road yet and many villagers still die of illness without seeing a hospital. “If someone reaches a hospital and survives, s/he will spend their remaining days earning and paying a huge loan. It is not thinkable to see a health centre without seeking loan in Chumanuwri,” said Pasang Lama, a local of Chumanuwri.
Lama added, “If someone reaches a hospital and dies, the family has to suffer more.” According to Bhimsen Shrestha, chief administrative officer of Chumanuwri Rural Municipality, around 25-30 villagers are transported to Kathmandu for medical emergencies via helicopter annually.
“Helicopters are also used to transport eight to 10 pregnant women to Kathmandu yearly under President’s Women Uplift Programme. It has helped save life of many new mothers,” said Shrestha. In the past few years, Mountain Child, a non-profit organisation, had been carrying villagers in need to Kathmandu or other places by helicopter. The organisation is not in operation now as it has not been renewed. It has added difficulties for the villagers.
“If someone needs to be transported via helicopter, we will convey the information to the Chief District Officer of Gorkha and seek permission for airlifting the individual,” said Shrestha. Locals argued that the permission-seeking process was lengthy and it barred them from transporting their relatives to the hospital in time. Mostly pregnant women and individuals injured in accidents suffer while waiting for the permission.
The villagers demanded with the concerned authorities to connect the village by a road network or to construct a well-equipped hospital in the area. “People have been dying untimely due to their inability to charter a helicopter,” the locals exclaimed.