About the corporatisation of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), we called for an in-depth study from the beginning. This is at long last happening with reconstitution of a committee to assess the possibility of corporatising the hospital.

Too many unnecessary mudslinging happened in between because caution is often not taken as positive appreciation of ideas.

Senior officials from the health ministry, JDWNRH, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMS), and Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) met on August 18 to discuss the issue. The meeting acknowledged that there is a need for an in-depth analysis concerning implications of the policy – legal, management and financial.

What we called for was a healthy debate, which is allowed by good access to information. The media never fomented fear of the possibility of citizens having to pay for healthcare. There is the Constitution that guarantees free basic healthcare to all.

The debate we brought to the fore is now asking for an independent third-party to review the plan and processes. Conflict of interest among the offices involved is the least we want.

A tough measure has been called for. Our concern is that healthcare doesn’t become tough for all. Whether JDWNRH can be an autonomous agency or not, there should be improvement to retain experts and specialists in the sector.

The debate is some months on the run already. The committee is expected to complete the task by December and the findings and recommendations of the study will be presented to the government.

In the meanwhile, Health Secretary Dr Ugen Dophu has made clear what basic healthcare doesn’t mean. It’s a sensible definition. No one needs to read or reread the Constitution to understand what “basic” healthcare should mean. Who defines what kind of headache one is supposed to tolerate, for example?

The new committee should be farsighted and provide sensible and fair recommendations. The best way is to allow a better growth environment to distinguished health practitioners.  The hospital and practitioners will bill the government and the government will pay.

We shall await the new committee’s foresight and recommendations.