The President’s Program for Women’s Upliftment is an initiative to save the lives of mothers at childbirth. It was launched in 2018, and has made air medevac of 170 mothers who may not have survived if they did not get urgent hospital treatment.
Patients in 19 remote districts and parts of 29 districts that do not have roads can apply for rescue. Areas with adequate maternity facilities or road connectivity are not eligible. The program has an annual budget of Rs50 million.
Lokmaya is getting intravenous fluid as she is loaded into the helicopter which takes off immediately for Kathmandu with her baby and relatives. Along the way, blood covers the floor of the helicopter.
Lokmaya is semi-unconscious, and because the nurse at the health post had warned against it, her mother keeps stroking her, and playing a favourite song on a mobile pressed against her ear.
The helicopter lands at Kathmanmdu airport, and Lokmaya is transferred to an ambulance which rushes her to the Maternity Hospital with siren blaring. The hospital itself was built in memory of the mother of King Birendra who died at childbirth at age 24 because of loss of blood.
Lokmaya is treated, and two days later her condition had improved enough for her to sit up and breastfeeding the baby.
Not all the emergency airlifts have a happy ending. Sometimes the relatives wait too long, at others the helicopter is not available, or is delayed by weather.