Nima Wangdi   

The caretaker of Merak Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Trashigang was terminated for administering booster shots to villagers last month.

He vaccinated 28 villagers on April 23 but the villagers reported no problems so far.

Two Health Assistants (HA) are stationed at the PHC but only one was on duty when the incident occurred. Sources said that the male HA asked the caretaker to help him vaccinate since many people came for the vaccination that day.

Sources said that the caretaker, who has been serving in the post for the past 11 years, vaccinated under the supervision of the HA on duty. The in-charge of the PHC, a female HA, was late to work that day.

A villager lodged a written complaint to the dzongkhag health sector on the same day about the incident following which an investigation team was dispatched to Merak the next day.

The investigation team comprised Trashigang Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, a doctor from Rangjung and the Trashigang dzongkhag health officer. Their investigation found the complaint to be true. The issue was then submitted to the dzongkhag human resource committee who deliberated on it.

An official said the caretaker was terminated as per the contract clause for vaccinating people despite being not certified to do so. For the male HA, who instructed the caretaker to vaccinate, his annual increment has been withheld for three years for making the caretaker vaccinate.

The in-charge, female HA’s annual increment has been withheld for two years for failing to show up to work on time. Officials said that she had submitted a statement saying that her child was sick and she was late to work.

Officials said that both the HAs have also been warned of termination if they fail in their duty again. “Medical and Health Council Act prohibits such acts and it is a serious error.”

Merak is one of the remotest gewogs of Trashigang, home to the semi-nomadic indigenous highlanders with about 30 traditionally built houses. The village is at an elevation of 3,500 metres above sea level.