Pakistan: Medical evacuation by United Nations Humanitarian Air Services - (UNHAS) ends on a happy note

News and Press Release
Originally published
Islamabad 3rd January 2007 - On the 23rd of December, the first life-saving medical evacuation after the re-start of the UNHAS helicopter flights, was conducted by Merlin, UNHAS, and United Nations Department of Security & Safety (UNDSS). A pregnant woman with labour complications was evacuated to AIMS hospital in Muzaffarabad from Serli Sacha Union Council (UC) in Neelum Valley, a far-flung inaccessible area at an altitude of approximately 5000 feet.

The Lady Health Visitor and Merlin's Health Promoter working in the Serli Sacha UC had identified the patient with high risk of complicated delivery during one of their routine home visits. The patient was carried by stretcher from her home to the Basic Health Unit (BHU) that Merlin, a British NGO, had been operating since immediately after the October 8th earthquake 2005. The condition of the patient was stabilised and Merlin's medical team comprising of Dr Rasheed Ahmed, Dr Nosheem Nabi, and the midwife Raheema Bibi decided on an emergency evacuation to Muzaffarabad.

Rod Penhall , Head of Air Operations UNHAS said, "The helicopter evacuation was completed successfully within a record time of approximately two hours starting from the initial phone call by Merlin field officer to the heli touch down in Muzaffarabad."

Patrick, the Logistic Coordinator from Merlin informed, "The patient delivered a healthy baby boy later that evening and have since then returned to their home."

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Jan Vandemoortele appreciating the efforts of the relevant agencies said, "It is worth emphasizing that the prompt response resulted from the excellent coordination between the BHU, Merlin, UNHAS and the UN's safety and security people. It is great to know that mother and child are doing fine."

UNHAS is a common service provided by World Food Programme (WFP) to serve and provide the Humanitarian Community with safe and reliable air transport services during humanitarian emergencies and UNDSS is responsible for the safety and security procedures and protocols. While Merlin is the only specialist UK agency which responds worldwide with vital health care and medical relief for vulnerable people caught up in natural disasters, conflict, disease and health system collapse.

For further information and media assistance, please contact,

Raabya Amjad, Public Information Officer, Pakistan
UN - Resident Coordinator's Office, Sector E-7, Street 11, House 124, Islamabad;
Tel: +92(0) 51 2652840; Fax: + 92(0) 51 2652536; Mobile: +92 (0)301 8542442