… along with an annual award and extension kits 

Health: The finance ministry has approved the revision of daily subsistence allowance (DSA) for village health workers besides approving incentive packages to motivate them further.

As recommended by the National Assembly’s Women, Children and Youth Committee, the health ministry had proposed for an increase in the existing DSA of Nu 300 to Nu 500. Besides introduction of an annual award of Nu 5,000 for best village health worker (one from each dzongkhag), they will also be provided extension kits like carry bags every three years, and shoes or boots once a year within the value of Nu 1,000.  

According to health ministry Department of Public Health officials (DoPH), a guideline or criteria will be developed for the annual award for the best village health worker.

Currently, there are 1,149 village health workers in the country.

Public health director, Dr Pandup Tshering, said the ministry is confident that village health workers will be motivated to work harder and the dropout rate will be reduced given the revised DSA and the packages.

According to DoPH officials, the village the health workers’ scheme was introduced in 1978 with the objective of creating a link between the health system and community in providing first aid, treatment of minor ailments, mobilising community for sanitation improvement, creating awareness on health, disease prevention in the community and referring patients to the health centres.

Village health workers are also able to provide services to their own communities in far flung areas, list pregnant mothers and refer them for ante-natal checkups, ensure children are immunised and refer sick patients to health centres for treatment.

“Through community mobilisation and creating awareness on health promotion and disease prevention they will be able to improve the health of the community,” Dr Pandup Tshering said.

The Women, Children and Youth Committee in the fourth session of the second Parliament recommended making village health workers a salaried post as they play a vital role in the community and are the main link between the service providers and the beneficiaries.

“They have multiple responsibilities in addition to their own work and aren’t provided any salary or incentives,” the committee report stated. “Some village health workers spend more than two weeks to a month fulfilling their role.”

The health ministry in January this year submitted the incentive package for village health workers to the finance ministry to be endorsed.

Committee chairperson, Drujegang-Tseza representative Karma Dorji, said although they had proposed for salary, it was found unfeasible. Therefore, revision of DSA and the package was approved.

“Given the huge workload and to retain them, such incentives were necessary to retain the village health workers,” Karma Dorji said, adding that the dropout rate was high among village health workers.

Kinga Dema