Lack of ambulance services in rural villages in Bhojpur put lives at riskPatients have to be carried on stretchers to the nearest health institution to avail of medical services.
People in the remote villages of Bhojpur district still have to depend on stretchers and tractors to reach the nearest health institution since ambulance services are yet to reach there. In times of medical emergencies, the villagers have to carry patients on stretchers to either Bhojpur Bazaar, the district headquarters, or Khandbari, the headquarters of the neighbouring district of Sankhuwasabha, to avail of medical services.
The locals of Salpasilichho Rural Municipality, Shadadanda Municipality and Ram Prasad Rai Rural Municipality go to Khandbari, which is about 15km away, for a lack of well-equipped hospitals in the area and also because it is closer to their villages than Bhojpur Bazaar, which is about 50km away.
“It takes a lot of time to reach either of the district headquarters on foot,” said Tara Rai of Khatamma in Salpasilichho Ward No 4. “Many villagers have lost their lives for a lack of timely treatment. And since there are no ambulances, the patients have to be carried on stretchers. Some even die on their way to the hospital.”
Although there’s a road that connects Salpasilichho to Bhojpur Bazaar, the rural road is in a dilapidated condition, making it unsuitable for vehicles other than tractors.
Mahesh Rai, the chairman of the local unit, said his office had initiated the procurement of an ambulance last fiscal year but the Covid-19 pandemic brought all procurement plans to a halt.
“The villagers have been suffering from a lack of an ambulance in the local unit,” he said. “We will bring an ambulance to the rural municipality within the current fiscal year.”
However, given the condition of the rural road, he is unsure of whether the ambulance service will be beneficial.
“We will work on constructing better roads or repair the existing ones,” he said.
Hatuwagadhi, Pauwadungma, Temkemaiyung, Aamchok and Arun rural municipalities, which are connected with the district headquarters with dirt roads, have managed to purchase an ambulance each. But locals of many remote settlements in these rural municipalities do not have access to the ambulance services.
"People have to walk for hours to reach the nearest hospital. If the patients are unable to walk, they have to be carried on a stretcher," said Shambhu Rai of Hatuwagadhi-2.
The only two ambulances at the Bhojpur District Hospital have not been in use for the past three years.
“The hospital needs new ambulances since the old ones are beyond repair. We have asked the provincial government to provide a budget for the same but have yet to hear from them,” said Dr Pabitra Shrestha, the chief at the hospital.