Kelzang wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Without gynaecologist in Samdrupjongkhar, expecting mothers are impacted by the Covid-19 protocols as they have to travel to Trashigang hospital, Mongar regional referral hospital, or Gelephu central regional referral hospital for delivery.

Choni Dema from Samdrupcholing, who is seven months pregnant, said she is worried she would have to go to Trashigang or Mongar hospitals. “I am worried about the quarantine. What if I get into labour there?”

She said the gynaecologist at Dewathang hospital was transferred about three years ago. “Since then it was difficult for expecting mothers in the dzongkhag.”

With movement restrictions via India, most patients are referred to Trashigang and Mongar hospitals for the delivery.

A Samdrupjongkhar resident, Pema, said besides the gynaecologist, the government should also provide endoscopy service either at Dewathang or Samdrupjongkhar hospital.

The issue was also discussed in the recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) conducted on August 27.

Gomdar Gup Sonam Tshering raised the issue and said there are two hospitals in the dzongkhag, but women still face challenges in availing institutional delivery service.

“It is time concerned authorities send a gynaecologist as people have to undergo a week-long mandatory quarantine even for emergencies because Samdrupjongkhar is a high-risk area,” he said.

Sonam Tshering said it would help if the health ministry sends a gynaecologist soon because most people could not afford to go to other hospitals.

However, the dzongkhag’s deputy chief health officer, Pema Tshewang, said the issue is not only in Samdrupjongkhar but it is a national issue as there are only limited gynaecologists in the country.

He said they had sent requisition to the ministry for replacement after the former gynaecologist at Dewathang hospital got transferred in 2018. “The ministry plans to deploy a gynaecologist to all the hospitals in the dzongkhags, but it would be challenging to deploy all at once.”

Pema Tshewang also said he requested the ministry to prioritise Samdrupjongkhar as the dzongkhag is a high-risk area with the strict enforcement of the Covid-19 protocols.

Meanwhile, the Samdrupjongkhar DT decided to submit the recommendations to the ministry.

Edited by Tashi Dema