Health: The Rotary Club of Thimphu (RCT) donated six hemodialysis machines to the health ministry yesterday.

The machines were procured with financial assistance from the global network of rotary clubs and rotary international districts.

The president of the RCT, Tsewang Rinzing, said that the club in collaboration with the health ministry would also conduct a refresher course and training for about nine dialysis machine operators from hospitals in the country.

“The club has funds to train the dialysis machine operators and the machine supplier will provide an engineer to train the operators,” said Tsewang Rinzing. “We have been working on this kidney dialysis project for the last two years.”

Health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said that with the increase in non-communicable diseases in the country, kidney failure cases have also increased. “There are 151 patients who require dialysis treatment as of today.”

Some 18 years after the establishment of dialysis services in the country, the national referral hospital in Thimphu has installed 10 units of dialysis machines till date.

Gelephu has two and the Mongar regional referral hospital has three.

The first dialysis service in the country was established in 1998 with two machines donated by the Thai government.

The dialysis services were expanded to the central regional referral hospital in Gelephu and Mongar regional referral hospital after 2010.

The national referral hospital in Thimphu alone has about 109 patients who require dialysis treatment today. The central regional referral hospital and eastern regional referral hospital have 22 and 20 patients respectively.

Dr Ugen Dophu said that as per standard practice, dialysis treatment is normally administered for three to four hours a session. Three sessions are required in a week.

However, Dr Ugen Dophu said that sometimes the dialysis treatment duration and frequency has to be reduced because of breakdown of machines with the limited number of machines.

“Providing timely and adequate dialysis service to the increasing number of patients continues to be a challenge for the health sector,” he said.

Realising the need for timely services to the patients upon His Majesty The King’s command, the construction of a 24-bed dialysis centre is underway below the national referral hospital in Thimphu.

Currently, the dialysis unit at the national referral hospital has only eight beds.

“With the additional machines, it will now be possible for us to improve service delivery to all the patients whose needs have so far been only partially fulfilled,” Dr Ugen Dophu said.

He added that accepting the donation with gratitude, the ministry assures that the machines would be looked after with great diligence and care. “There is no doubt that these machines will make a big difference in the lives of patients who need dialysis treatment.”

Tsewang Rinzing said that the kidney dialysis project would not have been possible without the help of the former district governor of the Seoul Rotary Club in Korea, PDG Songhyon Jang.

Governor PDG Jang said that the kidney dialysis project in Bhutan is another milestone.

“I hope that the machines will contribute, be it in small ways, to enhance the wellbeing of the people of Bhutan and I hope it remains as a token of friendship from the Rotarians around the world,” said PDG Songhyon Jang.

Tsewang Rinzing said that a club in Nepal will soon donate two more dialysis machines through the RCT.

The RCT is working on projects to develop human resource capacity to improve health services in the country by donating essential equipment to the hospitals in the country, including the animal husbandry hospital in Thimphu.

Dechen Tshomo