It has been more than four months since the ultrasound machine in Tsirang hospital broke down.

This has affected patients and left them frustrated over the erratic medical service. Expecting mothers are most affected.

Sonam Choki, who is four months pregnant, was referred to Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital for an ultrasound last month.

She said she went to Gelephu but got an appointment only three days later. “Travelling during the early stage of pregnancy has a risk of miscarriage.”

She is already worried about her second ultrasound in the eighth month. She fears travelling long distance during the later stage of pregnancy could result in premature delivery. “I wish there is a functional machine here.”

A pregnant woman is required to do ultrasound twice during her pregnancy. Once in the first trimester and the second in the third trimester.

Another patient, Bishnu Maya Acharja, 25, had to go to Bajothang Basic Health Unit in January for an ultrasound. She was in her sixth month of pregnancy.

She said the ultrasound machine in Bajothang BHU was also defunct then. She availed the facility from Tenchholing Army hospital.  “The ultrasound machine here breaks down frequently. So without coming here, I went to Wangdue on my own.”

Patients also pointed out that it is not just about travelling to other dzongkhags for an ultrasound but also about the expenditure.

One of the residents, Pema, said going to Gelephu or Thimphu for the service is expensive for farmers. “When we’ve such a huge hospital, an ultrasound is expected to be reliable.”

Health officials in Tsirang however, refused to share information.

Kuensel learnt that a technician from the machine supplier in India could repair the machine. Sources said that repairmen from the supplier had come to the hospital a month ago and took the machine parts since they could not fix the machine.

It is not known when the service would resume.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang