Health: Covered in thick jungle and located about 10 minutes drive from Punakha-Gasa highway is a Basic Health Unit (BHU). It is in Metsechen village in Goenshari gewog in Punakha.

Constructed in 2009, the grade II BHU remains almost underutilised. Rooms in the BHU are empty. Occasional visitors to BHU find the location and the structure almost haunted.

The nearest settlement is some 20 minutes walk down the forest. Thick vegetation has covered the feeder road leading to the facility.

The lone employee at the BHU is 40-year-old health assistant, Chojay. He lives with his wife and son at the facility, which is constructed over an area of 14.32 acres. Without a separate staff quarter, Chojay and family have occupied some rooms of the BHU.

The BHU has almost 20 rooms, which include a laboratory, traditional medicine unit, a delivery room, immunisation room and a five-bedded ward. Although not fully equipped, basic kits are in place at the facilities, according to Chojay.

The health assistant said that people from the gewog are the ones who mostly avail of the services from the facility. “Most of the people outside the gewog don’t even know that we have a BHU here,” said Chojay.

On an average, five to 10 people visit the BHU everyday, said Chojay. Emergency and (Acute Respiratory Infection) ARI cases, including a few old cases, are mostly brought to the BHU, said Chojay. “Our services are focussed more on awareness and prevention.”

Being the only health worker at the BHU, when Chojay is out for some official or personal work, the BHU remains closed. “I’ve not much problem in handling the patients because the number is less, but in cases of emergencies like delivery with complications, it becomes very difficult,” said Chojay.

Generally for a grade II BHU, there should be three staff minimum, said Chojay.

Younten Tshedup | Punakha