Ambulance with women at wheel

A woman driver stands next to her ambulance in North Dinajpur on Thursday. Picture by Kousik Sen

Raiganj: For the first time in north Bengal, the North Dinajpur district administration on Thursday introduced eight ambulances under Border Area Development Project (BADP) which would be run by women drivers and will work to bring would-be mothers and other patients to health centres and hospitals from bordering areas of the district.

In the district, this is the second lot of free ambulances pressed into service in the past 24 hours. On Wednesday, 20 other ambulances were launched by the administration to increase the institutional delivery rate in the district.

Ayesha Rani A, DM, North Dinajpur, said: "The ambulances will be run by women drivers who have been selected from remote locations of the district and have been provided proper training. The vehicles will be monitored by women self-help groups which work in remote villages."

Christened "Mission Matriyan 100," all eight ambulances were flagged off by the district magistrate at her office.

"It is a matter of pride that on the International Women's Day, we could launch this service, which would be for women and would be provided by women. So far we know, there is no such ambulance service with women drivers in any other district of north Bengal," said the DM.

The women drivers, who were present on this occasion, sounded excited.

"I am a homemaker and come from a remote village. I had never thought of working as an ambulance driver. It is a great feeling to work for women residing in villages, particularly during their hour of need. We hope to live up to the expectations of the administrative officials who have entrusted us with the responsibility," said Arati Tudu, one of the drivers.

An official said health officials would pay the self-help groups for the ambulance services, based on the kilometres each vehicle has travelled every month in carrying patients to government health establishments.

"The self-help group will, in turn, pay the driver. Also, the group can rent out the ambulance if anybody wants to take a patient to a private clinic. The responsibility of maintaining the vehicle will also be with the group," the official said.


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