Health: Her Majesty the Queen graced the salang ceremony for construction of the much-awaited 150-bedded Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Mother and Child Hospital yesterday in Thimphu. The hospital will cater to all maternal related health services.

Today the national referral hospital records over 4,000 births annually with 4,070 in 2014 and the department of gynecology and obstetrics, and department of pediatrics are faced with shortage of beds. It has further intensified demand for quality and specialized services.

Increasing births and early discharge of patients’ results in poor quality of services.

Health secretary Dr Dorji Wangchuk said mother and child occupies the maximum beds at the national referral hospital today, which is more than 100 percent occupancy against 32 beds. The congestion is expected to become worse each year with increase in Thimphu population

“This hospital will enhance antenatal, pediatric and neonatal care,” he said. “It will not only take care of infants dying before attaining a month but also ensure a better good quality life for the child.”

The hospital will help build confidence in new mothers, which would reduce women going outside the country to give birth, according to the secretary. It would help achieve 100 percent institutional delivery, which is just about 60 percent today, he said.

Currently the mother, child and community health are functioning in isolation, he said. The mother and child hospital will bring the three together for value addition.

Besides improving maternal care, the new hospital will also serve as a knowledge hub, where Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan will have opportunity to do better in community health, child specialists , and gynecology and obstetrics specialists.

Health ministry is expecting about eight gynecologists and pediatrician by the time the hospital begins functioning.

Another important objective behind opening a dedicated mother and child hospital is to bring down the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality ratio.

The national health survey, 2012, found that 21 out of 1,000 babies born alive die within the first month of birth, indicating that about 67 percent of infant deaths occur in the first 28 days of birth.

According to the 2015 annual health bulletin, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) for 2014 is 86, which has reduced from 255 in 2000, achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the MMR below 140 per 100,000 live births.

Despite the MDG achievement, Dr Dorji Wangchuk said women giving birth would continue and continued quality maternal care is required.

On the sustainability part, he said the demand from health service has increased and it has to be met without compromising value addition.

Director of medical supplies and health infrastructure department, Sonam Jamtsho said, completion of the new hospital would meet the key requisite of the Post Graduate (PG) programme by having adequate number of beds for all the departments of JDWNRH as a teaching hospital, mandated by Bhutan Medical and Health Council and International Standards.

It would also facilitate the introduction of sub-speciality services like cardio-thoracic, neurosurgery, spine and joint replacement and kidney transplant surgeries that require additional space for ward, ICU and Operation Theatres.

The government of India is funding the construction with Nu 737M under the project tied assistance.

By Nirmala Pokhrel