A video of an expecting mother being carried by other women on a makeshift palanquin is doing rounds of the internet. A 27-year-old resident of Shakti village Sunita Devi complained of labour pain on Sunday morning when there were no men in the village, since they had left for work. And due to the absence of mobile phone connectivity, nobody could be contacted. As per the reports, the women then decided to take her across 18 km of tough terrain and forested area to reach the “nearest” hospital. Shakti, is a remote village on the periphery of Kullu, Manali and is reportedly devoid of basic healthcare facilities.

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It took them about 7 hours to complete the 18 km stretch. Some men also joined them later. They had started from Shakti at 8:45 am in the morning and reached Niharni at 3:30 pm. Sunita was then moved to the community health center at Sainj by road.  This was not the first time someone in need of medical emergency had to be carried like this, the villagers reported that such incidences happen almost every month. The locals carry ration and other essentials on their backs and travel by this unsafe route on a regular basis.

This was not the first time someone in need of medical emergency had to be carried like this, the villagers reported that such incidences happen almost every month.

The trail, naturally, is prone to landslides and avalanches and many have lost their lives by falling off of it. The most recent case that was reported was of an Anganwadi worker who slipped off to death in a gorge on January 19. He was going in the area for administering polio vaccine to the children of Shakti and Maror village. These two remote areas reportedly do not have a dispensary.

A woman in the video, bearing the palanquin can be heard saying, “We are forced to carry patients, including pregnant women on makeshift palanquins. The politicians only come to seek votes, nothing else.”

Apart from the depravity of health services, the area also lacks a power supply. The main civil hospital situated in the Sainj town is meant for the entire valley and still does not have something as basic as an ultrasound facility. So, even after trekking for 7 hours with all the weight, the to-be mother had to be taken to the regional hospital in Kullu to get an ultrasound.

Authorities react

M R Bhardwaj, Banjar SDM, said, “The government is thinking of building a road to connect these villages. Shakti village has religious importance in the area. The main hurdle in carrying out various development programs is that villages are located within the Great Himalayan National Park.”

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Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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