Phub Dem  | Paro

The floating population in Paro is increasing, and those availing medical services at the only dzongkhag hospital are on the rise, especially during the pandemic.

Residents and local government leaders said it is time for the hospital to be upgraded to a tertiary care unit.

According to health official, Paro hospital makes the maximum number of referrals to Thimphu. “On an average, the hospital sends 10 referrals related to gynaecology to the national referral hospital weekly,” said an official.

Officials also said Paro hospital has the second-highest number if outpatient department (OPD) cases.

The hospital records about 700 maternity cases in Paro hospital in a year, out of which half of the cases are either referred to, or prefer, Thimphu.

The issue of the lack of a gynaecologist was discussed in the last dzongkhag tshogdu (DT), where members requested the hospital upgrade.

According to the DT chairperson, Tshering Dorji, Paro has a population of about 50,000 people. “But there are no health specialists and facilities in the hospital,” he said, adding that it has become essential for the hospital to have a gynaecologist and a surgeon.

He said that as the hospital was acquiring surrounding lands, an upgrade to referral hospital distinction would be of immense benefit for the residents and reduce the workload of JDWNRH.

DT members said that the hospital structure should undergo a major renovation to general house specialists such as medical, surgical, paediatric, and gynaecological.

They said there have been no gynaecologists or surgeons in Paro since 2015.

In the past, DT members even questioned if Paro hospital was downgraded, as the specialists available were taken back. They said there was a surgeon and a gynaecologist from 2008 to 2010, and a gynaecologist from 2013 to 2015.

The DT resolved to write to the Ministry of Health to look into the issue, consider upgrading the hospital, and request to immediately send the specialists.

A source said there were plans to upgrade Mongar, Gelephu, and Paro to a referral hospital, but Paro could not be upgraded due to land issues.

As of today, the hospital is in the process of acquiring land.

Health officials say that they will propose the upgrade plan after getting the thram, as it was not in the 12th Five-Year Plan.

Meanwhile, many residents said the hospital should have a gynaecologist and a surgeon available as soon as possible.

Without a gynaecologist, expecting mothers are disappointed, as most of them are referred at the last minute.

According to Ugyen Choden, a new mother from Dopshari, she cannot trust the health services available, and was not happy with the facilities in Paro.

She said that she visited the hospital after her water broke, but she went to Thimphu for delivery without proper care.

“It wasn’t easy in Thimphu either,” Ugyen Choden said. “I had to wait for seven hours before getting the Covid-19 test result amid labour pain.”

She said that if Paro had a specialist and better facilities, the hassle and crowd at Thimphu could be avoided.

Another mother, Wangchen, from Tsento, said that she decided to give birth in Paro, as health protocol is strict in Thimphu, but she had to go to Thimphu because she had some complications.

She said that she could have delivered in Paro if  there was a gynaecologist, which would have saved time and expenditure. “Paro has seen a drastic increase in population. The hospital should at least have crucial health specialists.”

The dzongkhag health officer, Choki Wangmo, said while the hospital needed specialists, there is a lack of specialists in the country.

Edited by Tashi Dema