Injured woman in Karnali dies as no helicopter on standby in capital

Published On: February 27, 2020 08:18 AM NPT By: GANESH BISHU

BIRENDRANAGAR, Feb 27: As she was collecting fodder, Kalpana Acharya fell from a tree on February 16 and broke her leg. The 21-year-old of Sharada Municipality in Salyan district was rushed to a nearby health center, where they said she needed to be airlifted to Kathmandu immediately. Her family and other locals approached the local administration for help. Responding to the pressure, the social development ministry of Karnali Province agreed to bear the expenses and emailed the district administration office. 

That office in turn contacted the Home Ministry in Kathmandu, urging it to dispatch a helicopter. This entire process took nine hours. However, upon receiving the message from the district administration, the Home Ministry said it was not possible to send a helicopter right away. Sometimes helicopters are not on standby, and the weather and other factors also cause delays, the ministry said. Ten hours after her mishap, Kalpana succumbed to her injuries.

On Tuesday, a jeep veered off the road in Kalikot district. A rescue operation could not take place on time. Chakra Bahadur Khadka, the driver, is still missing and his family has lost all hope. Such is the helplessness of folks in remote Karnali. Be it a minor accident or a major disaster, the lack of timely help costs lives.

“Had they been a little more concerned and showed more sensitivity, our daughter could still be alive today,” said Kalpana’s grieving father Krishna Acharya. “She was too young to die.”

Coming from a humble background, she had just passed the 12th grade and was the great hope of her family. She had fallen some five meters from the tree and was bleeding badly from a ruptured vein.The family rushed her to the health center only to be told that she needed to reach a good hospital on time.

“They said even a minute’s delay could be critical. But we could not bring her within reach of succor even after 19 hours,” her father said. “After all that we went through, we were very hopeful the home ministry would send a helicopter. But they said it could not be sent in the evening. The night passed and in the morning our daughter died,” he further said.

Spokesperson at the home ministry Kedarnath Sharma meanwhile told Republica that he was aware of the case and had talked to the CDO concerned. 

“We can’t always have a helicopter on standby. And a helicopter without night vision cannot take off after evening. That day, the weather could also have been bad,” he said. “When a helicopter was being readied, we got word that the injured had already died,” he added.

Slow response and inefficiencies in succor seal the fate many like Kalpana in the remote villages of districts like Humla, Jumla, Rukum, Kalikot, Jajarkot, Mugu and Dolpa. Neither are there doctors at local hospitals, nor are mechanisms in place to respond to emergencies.

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