Thukten Zangpo 

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that the Ministry of Health (MoH) is providing critical health services in the Covid-19 high-risk areas with a team of specialists sent to screen and enable referral cases.

In response to Tashichhoeling MP Dil Maya Rai’s question to the minister at the National Assembly session yesterday, Lyonpo acknowledged that mandatory quarantine is indeed tiresome for the people and that people in high-risk areas are facing difficulties.

However, she pointed out that “Mandatory quarantine is the best public health practice to detect the virus,” adding that a 700km porous border poses many risks.

Mandatory quarantine, she said, could be reduced if the situation improves in the future, and informed the House that the MoH has sent teams of specialists to screen people. “Over 33,000 people have availed the services in eight dzongkhags and enabled referral cases to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu.”

The ministry, Lyonpo said, will provide cataract surgery services in Samtse, Phuentsholing, and Kalikhola in December, Samdrupjhongkhar in January, and Trashigang in February of next year.

Mongar MP Karma Lhamo asked Lyonpo about the shortage of doctors at the Mongar regional hospital, even though the hospital has been provided with the latest equipment and technologies.

Lyonpo pointed out that the shortage of doctors is a nationwide problem. Bhutan’s doctor to population ratio is 1:2,000.

She said that Bhutan has 12 medical specialists, 13 surgeons, 12 gynaecologists, 15 paediatric specialists, and cancer and cardiac sub-specialists.  Eleven dzongkhags, Lyonpo said, were without specialists.

She said that the government would provide 10 specialists to the Mongar regional hospital, and ENT specialists would be arranged soon.

To provide specialist service to all the dzongkhags, Lyonpo said that the ministry was holding a medical camp providing services to diagnose cancer and eye diseases. She added that the ministry will also cluster dzongkhags with a central hospital to utilise skilled workers to provide health services efficiently.

“The government has set a target to have 60 to 70 specialists in the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP),” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that medical equipment and technologies worth Nu 263 million (M) were provided to Mongar hospital, and an additional Nu 831M has been mobilised for the mother and child hospital.

Regarding Nu 125M for a 20-bedded hospital in Nganglam, Lyonpo clarified that the activity was not dropped but deprioritised in the 12th FYP .