Yangyel Lhaden

Following Lyonchhen’s approval to continue services for pregnant women and vaccination of children during lockdown, Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Hospital saw hundreds of patient availing the services yesterday.

By noon, 21 patients availed post-natal immunisation; 74 availed blood and urine sample tests, 22 availed voluntary counselling, and 20 availed ultrasound facility.

Doctor Sonam Ugen, Head of Community Health Department, said that many who did not require essential services had also come to the hospital. “Some people just had a fever or a headache.”

The hospital had a contingency plan to tackle situations during Covid-19 and lockdown, she added.

The contingency plan—Interim operational guideline for continuity of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health, and nutrition services during Covid-19 pandemic—aims to reduce hospital visits.

According to the plan, half the health staff would work from home, making remote treatment possible through phone calls. Only emergency patients would be asked to visit the hospital. The other half would carry out face-to-face treatment of patients.

“Temporal measure is to ensure that if the facility goes under lockdown by a Covid-19 positive case, there would still be half health staff for continued service,” she added.

The plan is to also reduce hospital visits by pregnant women; eight visits to the hospital is now reduced to four. Pregnant women on 12, 24, 36 and 38 weeks need to visit the hospital but 20-, 30-, 34-, 40-week treatment can be done through remote treatment.

In case of complication, expectant mothers would be asked to visit hospital and vehicles would be arranged by the hospital, Doctor Sonam Ugen said.

“People are miss-using this special service during the lockdown,” she added

In Thimphu, Community Health Unit carries out outreach clinic for Chang Gewog. Additionally, nine Goenpas and Sheydras, and 16 Schools and Institutions.

Doctor Sonam Ugen said that usually all services were provided in a day according to their convenience, but considering the Covid-19 measures family planning was done on one day and child immunization and medication refill for ailment patient on the next day.

On August 14, seven individuals availed family planning services. Immunisation of 15 children was scheduled for the next day through outreach clinic.

Doctor Sonam Ugyen said that all registered records for mother and child was registered in Health Management and Information System—Mother and Child Health Tracking System (MCHTS)

We call mothers whose child need vaccination by following health protocol through the MCHTS, she added.

“The hospital functioned with half staff today but if the number of patients increases, we might have to call all the health staff,” she said.