Bhutanese patients’ stipend for referral cases to India to be revised

The present practice of paying Nu.150 per day for the patients’ referral cases to India is not adequate and revision is under way said the Health Minister during the 12th meet the press, yesterday.

Health Minister, Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, said the ministry’s task force has been working for eight months to evaluate and access the problems faced with regards to the limited stipend provided for the referral cases to India.

He added that the task force is looking into feedback from the stakeholders involved and through various media outlets.

Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said that soon the proposal will be forwarded to the Cabinet. Then after that only the accurate stipend would be disclosed, he added. He admitted that the stipend has not been revised for a few years.

The stipend is provided to meet the food and lodging costs for a patient and an attendant while the Government pays the expenditure for the treatment of patient. Bhutanese patients are mostly referred to Guwahati, Kolkata, and Madras in India.

On this, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgye also shared his concern saying that while the stipend is not adequate the government is paying more than what government has.

Citing an example, Lyonchhen said a little contribution from tax levied on the mobile recharge voucher, 5 % would contribute to the government treasury.

Lyonchhen also said that the government is conscious about the budget utilization, by not allocating to unnecessary plans but to that where it would bring development.

Thereby, Lyonchhen added, the Government taxation on mobile recharge voucher has been reasonable. He added one should look at the future benefits to achieve country’s self reliance and people should appreciate and be happy for the contribution.

The total spending for the patients referred to India reached Nu. 180 mn annually and is increasing every year, Lyonchhen said. It is expected that the spending will reach Nu 200 mn by this year end.

And for the essential drugs, the annual spending stands at Nu.170 mn a year. For the essential drugs 2014-2015 the spending was at 182 mn and, for vaccination last year at 15 mn. As donors are graduating from the assistance next year, the government alone has to meet the expenses.

Lyonchhen added that with the increasing referral cases, there also should be some thought from where the budget would be provided.

Talking on the curbing and minimizing the referral cases, Lyonchhen said that the hospitals have been granted autonomy, so they can function efficiently and the other way would be to keep our body fit by doing regular exercise.

He said October 11, would be celebrated as a “Move for Health.” It will flag off from Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School (Flag Off) to Thimphu, Clock Tower with the theme: Move for Health; Invest in Health and with the objectives of launching the financing of Essential Drugs and advocating and promoting healthy life style to prevent and control rising cost of health care delivery and enhance the quality of life.

Lyonchhen said the “Move for Health” initiative also makes the people aware about the need to keep one’s body fit. He added the regular exercise would prevent one from the life-style related diseases and non-communicable diseases. Thereby, the number of referral cases would be lowered and also lower the government’s expenditure on health.

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