Uttarakhand's new lifeline


The new 108 ambulance services, which is saving lives in remote hill villages, is bringing credit to the ruling BJP party in Uttarakhand.

The brainchild of the Satyam Group, it is funded by the state government.

In Buri Bana village of Uttarakhand Ganga Singh's bhajans are full of sadness and sorrow. The farmer had five sons, but three died young of preventible causes, like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.

Behind the senseless tragedy is the lack of good hospitals and the lack of regular bus service to take patients to distant towns.

About four months ago, 100 people fell ill due to food poisoning in Garhgaon Mewra village. But the problem was access to hospital.

"We ate potatoes at the wedding party. After that we played for some time. Then we felt giddy and started vomiting," said Himanshu Bisht, food poisoning victim.

But this time the villagers dialed 108 for the new ambulance services which ferried nearly 100 victims to hospitals.

The emergency services, which are a year old in the state, are free. It is the outcome of a state government and NGO partnership.

"It's good for those who are poor, and for everyone," said a local.

The hills are now alive with the siren of this efficient and well-equipped ambulance service.

About 17 per cent of the users are victims of road traffic accidents while nearly 34 per cent are pregnancy cases.

But the state has to do more, while 108 service provides a good link, the hospitals are still ill-equipped, with fifty per cent vacancies and few medicines.

Story First Published: May 12, 2009 22:30 IST

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