Kathmandu, May 31: The President’s Women Upliftment Programme (PWUP) under the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens has become a lifesaver to many deprived women staying in remote parts of the country. The air ambulance service run by the government in backward areas has been gaining popularity as well as drawing appreciation from people of different walks of life. A 27-year pregnant woman from Goshaikunda Gaunpalika in Rasuwa district was rescued from her home on May 2, 2020, while she was suffering from continuous labour pain for almost 24 hours. Health officials at the Thulo Syafru Health Post in the district referred her to a well-equipped hospital after she developed more complications. Chhiring Tamang, 27, was air-lifted to Paropakar Maternity Hospital in Kathmandu from Rasuwa with the help of the CDO. Deuma Saud, 24, from Ramaroshan Gaunpalika in Achham district, was serious due to heavy bleeding shortly after her delivery on May 9, 2020. As Saud’s life was at risk, she needed to be taken to a well-equipped hospital immediately. Saud’s family members informed the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Achham about her condition. Soon she was rescued by a helicopter. She was taken to Kohalpur Medical College in Nepalgunj for further treatment. These are a couple of cases of rescue of women in labour pain during the lockdown from the remote parts of the country. The country has been in lockdown for over two months but maternity services are in high priority list and should be taken care of at any time and in any situation, health experts said. The PWUP has become popular among women in the remote parts of the district, where health facilities are yet a far cry when they are in immediate need. The PWUP deserves kudos for rescuing women during the emergency and taking them to the well-equipped hospitals to save their lives. Ajay Kumari Budha, 24, from Tripurasundari Municipality in Dolpa district developed complications during her pregnancy on July 17, 2019. She had twin babies and the local health institution failed to perform a Caesarian section, so she needed an emergency C-section. Her family members made a call to CDO for the rescue as Budha was getting more serious. The CDO arranged a Nepal Army helicopter to take her to a nearby hospital. She was then lifted to Maddhya Pradesh Regional Hospital in Surkhet for further treatment on the same day and is doing well now. These are only a few cases of women rescued and airlifted by PWUP, which started on December 21, 2018. The government of Nepal launched the programme during the tenure of the first female President of the country, Bidya Devi Bhandari, which aims to support the women excluded from the mainstream of health, social and economic development by providing them life skill training and engaging them in income-generating activities. Providing health facilities for the needy ones is one of the main aims of the programme, said Anju Dhungana, chief and focal person of the Presidential Women’s Upliftment Programme Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens. The Ministry, in coordination with local authorities, makes arrangement of helicopter to take the pregnant women, who are in a life-threatening situation due to maternity complications, from 34 remote districts including Dopla, Humla, Rolpa, Khotang, Okhaldhunga, Solukhumbu, Rasuwa, Dolakha, Manang and Mustang. According to Dhungana, since its inception in 2018, the PWUP has rescued 103 pregnant and post-partum women, 14 of them during the current lockdown period. Director of Paropakar Maternity Hospital at Thapathali Dr Jageshwor Gautam said the hospital would receive one such complicated case once in every 10 to 15 days. “This is one of the best programmes run by the government and is highly effective. Women should be treated properly during pregnancy and post-partum and should be rescued as soon as possible.” The programme has become a lifesaver for many women who develop complications before and after child delivery, Dr Gautam said. “Even though we are receiving one case in 10 to 15 days, we will be happy to treat more if it is necessary,” he said. Currently, the hospital is performing 60 deliveries a day. According to Dhungana, some of the areas in the remote districts are left out of the programme and the ministry is working to include them under the progarmme. “Most of the areas which have no access to roads should be included in the programme and we are working on it,” Dhungana said. There are challenges during this time of crisis and most of the ambulance drivers are in fear of COVID-19 transmission while bringing the patients but the government is committed towards the service, Dhungana informed. The women rescued under the programme will be taken to hospitals running the Safe Motherhood Programme, where they will be provided free treatment including delivery allowance. The rescued patients are sent to Koshi Hospital in Biratnagar, Gajendra Narayan Singh Hospital (Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital) in Rajbiraj, Janakpur Regional Hospital in Janakpur, and Narayani Hospital in Birgunj. Similarly, they are also sent to Paropakar Maternity Hospital in Kathmandu, Bharatpur Hospital in Bharatpur, Gandaki Pradesh Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara, Lumbini Provincial Hospital in Butwal in Rupendehi and Bheri Regional Hospital in Nepalgunj. Likewise, Karnali Institute of Health Sciences in Jumla, Karnali Regional Hospital (Midwest Regional Hospital) in Surkhet and Far West Seti Regional Hospital in Dhangadhi also receive and treat the rescued women.