Plans to meet the target when trainee health assistants graduate in July this year

About 20 female health workers who were selected to be placed in grade II Basic Health Unit (BHU) where there are none have appealed to the health ministry to reconsider their transfer.

The appeals are made based on marital status and family situations. The ministry’s Human Resource Committee (HRC) is reviewing their request.

This means, the health ministry will not meet its annual performance agreement target to have at least one female health assistant in all 184 BHU II by this month. Some 23 BHU II in the country including those in Mongar and Chukha do not have a female health assistant.

However, health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said the ministry would be able to meet its target by 100 percent when a batch of trainee health assistants graduate from the Faculty of Nursing and Public Health in July this year. “It will be our top most priority in July.”

While the health sector has an adequate number of female health workers, Dr Ugen Dophu said the target couldn’t be achieved 100 percent because some female health assistants cannot be transferred due to unavoidable circumstances.

Of the 605 health assistants in the country, 232 are female.

Dr Ugen Dophu said the transfer order for three of the eight female health assistants from Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital would be revoked on medical grounds and in the interest of the public.

One of them was trained in maternal-fetal medicine and ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination fertility treatments since 2000. “She is a highly specialised health assistant so we have to keep her with the national referral hospital for the benefit of patients from across the country,” Dr Ugen Dophu said.

The secretary said it is not possible to replace the three female health assistants immediately.

He said the number of those on the transfer list might change after the HRC reviews their appeals. “But there will not be a drastic increase in the number.”

Meanwhile, a female health worker who got transferred to a hospital a few years ago after serving in a remote health centre for five years, claimed in the social media that she is again transferred to one of the BHUs.

Dr Ugen Dophu said the Civil Service Rules do not state that a civil servant cannot be reposted to rural areas. “We cannot leave a health worker posted in a health centre in a remote area for a longer period of time but we can re-post them.”

Although the ministry is unable to fulfil 100 percent of the target, the ministry assures that all BHU IIs in the country will have at least a female health worker by the end of this year.

Dechen Tshomo