A computed tomography (CT) scan machine each will be installed at the national referral hospital in Thimphu, and the regional referral hospitals in Mongar and Gelephu by June next year.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said at the National Assembly on November 28 that the machines would be installed as per the implementation schedule. The Japanese government is donating three CT scan machines to Bhutan to improve diagnostic services in three regional hospitals.

During the question hour, Kengkhar Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho had asked the minister on when the CT scan machines will be installed in the three hospitals.

Of the three, the machine with 64-slice will be installed at JDWNRH while the two CT scan machines with 16-slice each would be installed in the regional referral hospitals.

“The government have always accorded high priority to improving diagnostic services that facilitate the provision of timely, cost-effective and high-quality diagnostic care in a safe and secure environment,” Lyonpo said. “The CT scan at JDWNRH is being upgraded and two installed at the regional referral hospitals to improve access and delivery of services.”

The 64-slice CT scan machine costs about Nu 67.5 million (M) while the 16-slice scan machine costs around Nu 60M.

Lyonpo said the increasing number of patients referred to JDWNRH every year for CT scan has overwhelmed the workload of the radiologist at the hospital. “This resulted in increase in the patients’ waiting time.”

Referral cases from Mongar and Gelephu regional referral hospitals to JDWNRH has increased from 3,010 in 2014 to 5,005 last year. The overall case workload in JDWNRH has increased to 5,200 cases in 2016 from 4,500 in 2014.

Of the 19,295 CT scans conducted by JDWNRH between 2014 and 2016, about 15,012 were referral cases from Gelephu and Mongar. About 30 percent of the total CT patients are referred from Mongar regional referral hospital and 40 percent from Gelephu regional referral hospital.

The first CT scan machine in the country was procured and installed at JDWNRH with the Indian government’s support in July 2006.

Lyonpo said the equipment has significantly contributed to the overall improvement in the diagnosis, patient management, referral and final outcome for the patient.

Globally, for every one million population, there is one CT scan machine. Bhutan will be having four for a population of less than a million, lyonpo said.

Dechen Tshomo