Nima Wangdi 

Those applying for Australian visa will not have to travel all the way to Thimphu for their health tests from next week.

By the end of this month, the health ministry will also offer the service at the Eastern Regional Referral Hospital in Mongar, and Central Regional Referral Hospital in Gelephu will start e-medical services for overseas visas.

This is expected to reduce the burden on Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu and enable it to reduce the huge backlog of cases seeking e-medical tests.

Anyone planning to go to Australia should have a medical certificate for Visa application and only physicians approved by the Australian government can perform the medical examination. Only a team at JDWNRH was recognised to do it earlier.

JDWNRH was burdened with huge backlogs with many people vying to travel abroad. To make sure that the people get e-medical services without having to wait for long or travel far, the ministry of health, months ago had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MoFAET) to allow Mongar and Gelephu hospitals to start the service.

MoFAET wrote to the Australian government for approval and Australian Home Affairs approved it on January 17.

Officials from the Ministry of Health earlier had said that the commencement of e-medical services at two more regional hospitals would help reduce the patient load at JDWNRH. “There was also some case where people travelled from far to Thimphu and failed to get appointments on time due to many people rushing for the service.”

A letter from the acting health secretary on January 24 to the two regional referral hospitals stated that training of trainers will be organized at JDWNRH soon who in turn will train people in their own hospitals.

The letter also asked the two hospitals to release their teams that include a medical superintendent, a radiologist, a Physician, a lab technician, X-Ray technician, an eye optometrist, and a receptionist.