Chhimi Dema  

The National Veterinary Hospital (NVH) from yesterday started providing 24 hours of veterinary services in Thimphu. Two para-veterinary officials will be on duty to attend to cases, and doctors and other technicians will be on-call.

NVH’s deputy chief veterinary officer, Dr Pema Tshewang, said that introducing 24-hour services was in the plan for five years “but could not be released due to staff shortage”.

The staff recruited in 2021 were engaged in the Nationwide Accelerated Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Programme for most of 2021 and 2022, he said. “Covid-19 also affected our plans as we had to rework our priorities.”

On average, the NVH sees more than 100 cases a day. The visitors bring their pets for registration, vaccination, microchipping, treatment, and consultation.

Sangay, a pet owner in Thimphu, said that the 24-hour veterinary service will be helpful. “When our pets are ill, we don’t have to wait until the hospital opens. This is a good initiative for animal welfare.”

General services such as vaccination, registration, and sterilisation will only be available during office hours only.

Currently, NVH is facing several challenges while providing veterinary services.

Dr Pema Tshewang said that a challenge for the NVH currently is the absence of training opportunities. “To provide efficient services, our doctors and nurses need continuous upgradation of their knowledge and skills.”

Another challenge is the lack of facilities to make a proper diagnosis and provide accurate treatment such as advanced diagnostic equipment in human hospitals.

Dr Pema Tshewang said that as NVH is not well-equipped, it greatly handicaps their diagnosis and treatment. “Given the limited resources (be it professional expertise or facilities) we try our best, but sometimes this is not good enough. This not only affects the clients’ trust but also affects the staff’s morale.”

Currently, the hospital is equipped with facilities like X-ray, ultrasound, blood analyser, and biochemistry machines among others.

Dr Pema Tshewang said that NVH identified training needs for the staff and the administration is seeking funds for collaborative projects with international experts or institutions for specialised training.

“This year, we are almost at the final stage of inviting experts from Cornell University in the USA to train our vets and nurses on the management of paraplegic animals through advanced physiotherapy techniques,” he said.

NVH at Motithang was inaugurated on February 5, 2018 to cater to the increasing demand for modern animal care and treatment requirements of pets and domestic animals.