Establishing additional dialysis centers in East is difficult: Health Minister

Member of Parliament of Bartsham- Shongphu constituency, Passang Dorji, asked the Ministry of Health if more dialysis facilities for renal failure patients in Trashigang Hospital could be provided, during the question and answer hour session in the National Assembly (NA).

The House was informed that people from Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Pemagatshel, and Mongar acquire medical services in the Trashigang hospital.

As per the MP, there are 32 renal patients who have to travel to Mongar.

 In response to the question, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo stated that the government wishes to provide the facilities, but that the budget must also be considered.

Lyonpo said that there are currently 352 patients who have access to the renal dialysis service in the country.

Previously, services were provided in JDWNRH, Mongar, and Gelephu regional hospitals, taking into account how people were dealing with difficulties.

Lyonpo said that after that the ministry started providing services in Phuentsholing, Samtse, Paro, and Wangdue because of increased case load.

“It is not only about installing dialysis equipment, but there has to be staff, nurses, and medical specialists to give the services,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo explained that when the government assumed office, specialist services were only available at JDWNRH and regional hospitals.

“We felt that these services were not being provided uniformly to all dzongkhags, so the ministry created dzongkhag clusters. Like services for Trashiyangste and Trashing are provided in Trashigang dzongkhag and services for Gasa, Punakha and Wangude are offered in Wangdue dzongkhag. We must consider investment while establishing the dialysis center,” Lyonpo said.

According to Lyonpo, to establish a center the investment will be roughly Nu 40 million (mn), and human resources will be necessary.

“In Nepal, for example, there are 60 dialysis centers for around 30 mn people, implying one unit for 500,000 people. Similarly, there are 700 dialysis centers in India for a population of 1.8 mn, and in our case, we have 8 centers for a population of over 700,000, which implies one center for 90,000 people,”

The MP said that there are eight centers in the country, but there is only one in the eastern region, which has a large population, and it does not appear to be fair.

 Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that it is not about dzongkhag disparity, but about the load of cases.

“Eastern people have strong immunity and eat a healthy diet. The dialysis is required for blood pressure since high blood pressure affects the kidneys and high blood pressure occurs when there is no appropriate diet and no exercise. I believe the people in the east have great health,” Lyonpo added.

Lyonpo said the services are readily available, but if they are not used, the resources would be wasted.

“The criterion is based on the number of cases as well as the projected number of dialysis patients. It will be tough if it is installed for everyone,” Lyonpo said.

As per Lyonpo, cases of hypertension, blood pressure, and cancer are high in the western region, and stomach cancer cases are high in Haa.

“So proper nutrition is essential. The east has the lowest level of hypertension. We must celebrate the good health of the eastern people,” Lyonpo added.

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