… its reconstruction and expansion is likely in the next Plan

Lhakpa Quendren  

The plan to reconstruct and expand Wangdichholing hospital has been shelved for now following concerns the Bumthang dzongkhag administration raised, Kuensel learnt.

The health ministry dropped fund mobilisation for the reconstruction and expansion following concerns from the Bumthang dzongkhag administration.

Although Bumthang dzongkhag officials refused to share the letter they wrote to the ministry, the health ministry’s letter to the Cabinet stated that the dzongkhag was sceptical about making the investment that may be underutilised given the current population of the dzongkhag.

The health ministry wrote to the Cabinet on December 7.

The letter stated that the ministry was negotiating with Helvetas for funds when they received dzongkhag’s views on the hospital reconstruction.

A health ministry official said, accordingly, the plan has been shelved for now.

However, the hospital may be reconstructed in the 13th Plan as it is identified as a cluster hospital according to the health ministry’s letter.

The health ministry is still of the view that the hospital being a cluster hospital needs expansion. The ministry is also working on the drawing and design of the hospital at the moment.

Bumthang dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) on September 1, wrote to the Prime Minister requesting him to expedite the hospital reconstruction.

Bumthang DT Thrizin Jamphel said that he did not receive any official letters about dropping the plan. “While the reconstruction work has been delayed due to insufficient budget in the current plan, it should be taken up in the next plan.”

“The DT identified three acres of land at Dekiling for the hospital reconstruction,” he said, adding that the next DT session will discuss the requirement of additional two acres to provide sufficient space for the hospital campus.

He added that the request for the urgent hospital reconstruction was made to provide adequate infrastructure and space for the large number of healthcare workers and hospital staff. He said that the hospital has about 95 staff.

“It is one of the oldest hospitals in the country and renovating it every year is not sustainable,” the Thrizin said.

The DT’s letter to Lyonchhen also stated the need to expand the hospital’s operation theatre.

Bumthang health officer Jigme Kelzang said that the dzongkhag administration supported the DT’s resolution to expand the hospital.

“We have requested the ministry to carry out a feasibility study before the actual plan is drawn to ensure that the hospital is not underutilised in the future,” he said.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering pledged the hospital reconstruction during the by-election for the Chhoekhor-Tang constituency was held in 2020. He also pledged four specialists who have already been in the hospital today.

According to the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) 2017, Bumthang has a population of 17,820 of which 8,428 are female. Bumthang is one of the least populated dzongkhags.