At least 25 patients visit Jigmecholing primary health centre every day

Nima | Gelephu

With only two health staff in Jigmecholing primary health centre (PHC), officials said they face difficulty in providing timely service to the people.

The centre had three officials until 2018 but an official was transferred to Chuzergang gewog when the BHU grade I was upgraded to a hospital.

The gewog made repeated requests to the dzongkhag health sector to send an additional staff to the PHC, as only one health official stays in the centre most of the time. The other staff is engaged in official meetings and public health awareness programmes.

Health assistant, Pema Kinzang, said about 25 people visit the centre every day with different cases. “The patients have to wait for a long time. There are many cases of non-communicable disease (NCD) in the gewog and screening procedure is long.”

Sources said the health ministry initiated and amended the nomenclature of health facilities as an innovative means to provide efficient and people-centred service delivery. “But the change in the name of the health facility did not bring much change although it was required with the changing time and policy,” a source said.

A source said after the change in the name of the facility, the staff pattern remained the same but there were few improvements in medicine and equipment. “New programmes were introduced but it did not make much difference in service delivery.”

Meanwhile, Pema Kinzang said the centre registered about 400 NCD cases. It ran short of medicine when new cases were reported.

Another health assistant, Sonam Zangmo, said three staff is required for the centre considering the population size and caseloads.

She said they face difficulty to refer patients to Gelephu during monsoon because of frequent roadblocks and have to treat all patients.

She added that it was difficult to manage the centre and provide services as expected by the people. “Updating the stock of medicine becomes difficult often. Sometimes we don’t have time to have meals,” said Sonam Zangmo.

The gewog administration had discussed the need to have additional staff at the centre and presented it during the dzongkhag tshogdu held last month.

However, officials from the dzongkhag said that the PHC was allotted only two staff as per the staffing pattern guidelines, which is decided as per the organisational development exercise.

Jigmecholing gup, Kumar Gurung, said that upgrading PHC to the hospital (grade-I to grade-II BHU) would help the gewog get one doctor. “We have a high population and the school upgraded to middle secondary school. Upgrading to BHU I or II would help people receive better service.”

He said that the centre provided an improved service but with a high population and more people diagnosed with different cases, it was difficult for two staff to provide the service.

“When one leaves for outcall, only one would be left behind,” the gup said.

Officials said that the number of staff in one centre is neither decided by the population size nor based on the caseloads. Monitoring old cases has become difficult since one staff got transferred in 2018.

“There are three health assistants in some centres. PHCs in the country are manned by HAs and there are also no provisions for a doctor in PHCs, “ an official said.

Meanwhile, with the centre starting to receive some equipment such as nebulizer, they are able to treat some cases that were earlier referred to regional hospitals. The PHC also attended a few accident cases with the help of the gewog utility vehicle.

Health officials from the dzongkhag said that there is a need to harmonise staffing pattern as per the patient load.

An official said there are hospitals that have lower workloads than the PHC in Sarpang.