Volunteer: Exposure to cold and dust, according to specialists from the Thai Friendship Medical Mission for ENT, is the main cause of ENT (ear nose and throat) diseases in the country.

The medical volunteers who were in the country to examine and treat ENT patients also treated, reexamined and conducted operations on screened cases by hospitals.

The mobile medical team comprising of 13 specialists began their mission in 2009 and has so far treated at least 6,000 Bhutanese during its five visits.

The volunteers treated 1,007 ENT related infections in central and western Bhutan this time. Out of the total, 62 underwent ENT surgery. They also issued 29 hearing aids.

“This time while the camp was at Wangdue, people from Paro and Thimphu also came to us,” camp coordinator, Wanwipa G. Suwan said.

ENT specialist, Dr Phakdee Sannikorn said weather and environment are the most common causes of ENT diseases in Bhutan.  “ENT is most common in cold places.”

While Bhutan has ample immunization programmes to prevent infections at an early age, eating healthy food can help reduce ENT diseases among adults. The specialist advised Bhutanese to eat foods containing more carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits to build stronger immune system.

“They must also keep themselves warm,” Phakdee Sannikorn said.

The team is also helping a class 12 student from Paro with cochlea implantation.  “She has no other way of hearing, it has to be the implantation,” Wanwipa G. Suwan said.

The team has also helped the health ministry train a Bhutanese physician to help the student use the cochlea implantation device. Cochlear implantation device is an electronic medical device that helps provide sound signals to the brain for damaged nerves of the inner ear.

Wanwipa G Suwan said hole in ear was the most common ENT diseases among the Bhutanese. The hole in ear is caused by prolonged infection not treated at an early stage. This happens because of lack of understanding between allergy and infection.

While an allergy is like rashes, ENT condition is with the organ related to nose, ear and throat.

“People need to be educated about ENT at an early age,” she said. “They must see doctors at the earliest when there is an infection.”

Meanwhile, the team had suffered numerous hurdles in getting over 700 kgs of their mobile medical equipment through the airlines. A little bit of ease in getting our baggage would go a long way in helping the Bhutanese ENT patients, the coordinator said.

“The health minister has asked us to come back and next year we will probably camp in Trongsa,” Wanwipa G Suwan said.

Tempa Wangdi