Health: More than 1,300 people from across the eastern region of the country were examined and treated during the mobile ENT (ear, nose, throat) camp that ended in Trashigang on Thursday.

Of the total, about 90 patients with cases related to ears and nose underwent surgery during the four-day camp. A volunteer team of doctors from Thailand, Canada and the USA carried out the surgery.

Camp coordinator from the Ministry of Health (MoH), Rinchen Namgyel, said the camp was organised to reach special medical care to the rural population.

“Since the district hospitals can only provide basic services related to ENT, the mobile camp is expected to further the treatment of these patients,” he said.

ENT specialist, Dr. Tika Ram, said that people from the eastern region couldn’t travel all the way to Thimphu for treatments. Even if they did, finding a place to live until the follow up check-ups are over becomes a problem for many.

“Because of this, a large number of people who need treatments or surgery is being left behind,” he said.

Most of the surgery carried out was related to ear problems.

“Cases of inward growth of skin inside the ear were common. If the growth spreads to the brain, the patient could die,” said Dr. Tika Ram. “We carried out tympanoplasty and mastoidectomy surgery for the ears and nasal polyp for noses.”

Hearing aids were also given to about 37 patients. While the volunteer team provided 30 hearing aids, seven were from the MoH. Although about 90 patients required hearing aid, Audiologist Palden Wangchuk said that the devices were distributed on a priority basis.

“People who can afford were advised to purchase the device,” he said.

Camp coordinator from Thailand, Wanwipa Rosjan, said that this is their fifth camp in Bhutan. Thai Friendship Medical Mission to Bhutan is made up of nine doctors, a nurse and two camp coordinators.

“We were first invited by the former health minister in 2008. We found out that there were only a handful of ENT surgeons in the country and that our services could make some difference to the lives so many,” said Wanwipa Rosjan.

Dr. Tika Ram said that MoH is not yet in a position to carry out such mobile campaigns because it doesn’t have portable equipment or resource capacity.

“Even if we have the equipment, there are only three ENT specialists in Bhutan. It won’t be possible for all of us to dedicate our services to ENT camps,” he said.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang