Neten Dorji | Wamrong

For more than 10 months now, the X-ray machine in Reserbu general hospital in Wamrong, Trashigang has been defunct. Patients travel to Kanglung BHU or Trashigang hospital. Sometimes they are referred to Pemagatshel hospital to avail the service.

The machine broke down on August 27, 2019. This has affected patients who come from remote areas to avail the service.

Tashi Yoezer, who fell down the stairs, was referred to Kanglung BHU for an X-ray last week.

He said he went to Kanglung BHU but he was referred to Trashigang hospital since the machine at Kanglung was not working. 

Tashi Yoezer, said now that the monsoon has arrived, it is risky to travel. “We have to travel about 85km from Wamrong to Trashigang. Only serious patients are ferried by ambulance. It is difficult for those who don’t own a vehicle,” he said.

Local residents said they are forced to travel either to Kanglung or Trashigang to get the X-ray done.

“It is an extra burden for the people who are economically disadvantaged,” she said. “Some cannot afford to go to Trashigang or Kanglung to get these services.”

Since August 27 last year, the hospital referred 44 patients from its ward and around 40 patients from out-patient department to other hospitals.

Health officials said that the hospital has become like referral hospital for two neighbouring gewogs of Thrimshing and Kangpara. Patients from parts of Pemagatshel dzongkhag are also referred to the hospital for further treatment.

Chief Medical Officer of the hospital said once a technician from biomedical engineering division from Thimphu came and checked the machine.

He said the machine was obsolete and recommended seeking a new X-ray machine as the required spare parts of the old one were not available in the market.

“There is lot of pressure from the public and they are raising issues on social media,” he said.

It was learnt that the hospital has written four letters to the health ministry for a replacement. However, the hospital administration has not yet received information on the replacement.

“We have no option other than to refer patients to Pemagatshel hospital and Kanglung BHU which cost extra fuel budget and TADA budget for the hospital,” one of the Chief Medical Officer’s letters to the ministry stated.

Meanwhile, health ministry officials said because of Covid-19 procurement has been delayed.  “We try to mobilise internally but because of non-availability of resources in the country, we could not do that.  Since it is a top priority in the hospital, as and when the lockdown eases, we will buy and replace,” said Media focal person, Tandin Dendup.

He said, for the time being, the hospital is referring serious patients to the nearby hospitals with ambulance.