Dechen Tshomo

The critical shortage of medical specialists in the country is expected to ease from next month when 16 specialists from Bangladesh would arrive in the country.

With the retirement of two national medical specialists this year and some more specialists attaining their retirement age in the next few years, the shortage of medical specialists in the country has become critical.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said, “Our team has already gone there and oriented the specialists.”

The 15 specialists specialised in Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Anesthesiology, and general surgery among others, and a nephrologist, who is a super-specialist, will work in Bhutan for three years.

A nephrologist deals with the diagnosis and management of kidney disease.

Lyonpo said that the specialists will be stationed at the referral hospital and other hospitals based on the needs and recommendations of the respective head of the departments (HoDs). “Their salaries will be pegged on the number of years of experience.”

This comes about eight months after the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering’s state visit to Bangladesh in April, during which the two secretaries of health ministries signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration in the health sector besides strengthening other bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Bangladesh agreed to send medical specialists to Bhutan and has also increased the quota for Bhutanese students from 10 to 15 every year.

According to the annual  health bulletin 2019, the country has a shortage of 2,201 medical professionals at various categories including specialists, nurses and technicians.

Health ministry’s 12th Plan targets to increase the number of specialists from 41 to 212. However, the targets are set to achieve by the end of the Plan. The shortage exists in the most critical areas like paediatrics, nursing, dialysis, intensive care unit, emergency services, laboratory services, and ENT, among others.

Meanwhile, the government is also exploring to hire specialists from other countries who are interested to work in Bhutan.

“I hope by three to four years, we should have our own specialists,” Lyonpo said.

According to the state of the nation report 2019, the government has plans to hire specialists from other countries so that it allows specialists in the country to undergo sub-specialisation.