Thinley Namgay

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said the government received Nu 6 billion (B) from donors to provide quality health services to the people.

She said this at the National Assembly yesterday in response to the Kengkhar-Weringla’s Member of Parliament (MP) Rinzin Jamtsho’s query on the shortages of doctors, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in regional hospitals.

Two regional hospitals, Mongar and Gelephu, have one computerised tomography (CT) scan each. “There is a need of doctors and MRI machine in regional hospitals,” Rinzin Jamtsho said.


Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has one CT scan and one MRI. MRI is used to find out whether there is cancer inside soft tissue.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said an MRI is enough for one million people. “Our population is less than a million, and our standard is 1.36, which is higher than the international standard.”

One CT scan cost Nu 30 to 40M, and the MRI cost Nu 60 to 80M.

Lyonpo said that CT scan at the two regional hospitals was underutilised. “This year, less than 400 people came to avail CT scan service in Gelephu. Mongar saw only 700. At JDWNRH, 5,000 people have used it.”

She said it could be more cost-effective if people come to Thimphu to avail MRI service.

Meanwhile, the minister informed the House that the government is working to convert JDWNRH to multi-disciplinary hospital as per the pledge. “Cervical and stomach cancers are prevalent in the country and the government is working to address this.”

The Health flagship programme was allotted a budget of Nu 1B and the government completed research for cancer in six to seven dzongkhags.

Jomotshangkha-Martshala MP Norbu Wangzom questioned the minister on maternity allowance, which was not given even after two years.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said the government was focusing on sustainable plans to benefit mother and child. “Maternity allowance will start within a year and the government would give allowance to the mother until the child attains 1,000 days instead of the previous 180 days. Moreover, to give financial literacy to the mother, we will directly deposit the money to their bank account.”

She also said the policy on ‘accelerating mother and child’ was initiated since September this year, and the ‘child and mother hospital’ will be established in Mongar.

Wamrong’s MP Karma Thinley said stopping vehicles at Mukazor caused inconveniences to businessmen and drivers. Mukhazor is located at about 85km away from Samdrujongkhar.

“Mukazor is inconvenient for travellers, and it would be better if vehicles are stopped either at Dewathang or any other place located within 20km distance from Samdrupjongkhar,” he said.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said a health committee, comprising of health officials, police, officials from economic affairs ministry, MPs and local government leaders are looking into the matter and they would conduct proper research.