Government questioned on expenses on non-essential health activities

At yesterday’s question hour session of the national assembly the health minister was questioned on the government’s expenditure on non-essential health activities and freebies.

“Funds are made available for all kinds of non-essential activities while funds for most important, basic and essential services of providing medical treatment to our patients are not available,” said the MP of Khengkhar Weringla Constituency, Rinzin Jamtsho. “Regional Referral and National Referral hospitals are facing acute shortage of medical specialists and equipment.”

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk the Royal government has always accorded high priority in improving medical services by providing adequate and appropriate diagnostic and curative services as National Service Standards.

“Every year, around Nu. 90 million has been allocated to the health sector to procure essential medical equipments and 769 pieces of medical equipment were supplied to hospitals in the country in 2016,” Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said.

Lyonpo also said the ministry will upgrade the Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) CT scan from 16 slices to 64 slices and establish 16 slices CT at two regional referral hospitals in 2018 under support of JICA. He said that JICA also agreed to provide mammography equipment, a digital X ray for CRRH, a spirometer and an ECG holder machine for ERRH. “All these equipment are worth USD 5 million,” the minister said.

The minister informed the house that in 2016, more than 2177 patients were referred to JDWNRH and most of the patients were referred for CT scan. With installation of such equipment the number of referrals from district to JDWNRH is expected to decrease.

He also said that the ministry has been recruiting expatriates in line with the Bhutan Medical and Health Council Act.

Major recruitment of expatriates started from 2004 and currently there are 14 super specialists and 36 specialists in the country.

The minister said that JDWNRH will also recruit 17 specialists at a pay package of USD 3000 or less depending on their experience. The ministry has also submitted a proposal to recruit 40 specialists as it will be establishing emergency Obstetric and Neonatal and Trauma Centers. “Today, even BHU’s have two doctors including a dental surgeon,” he said.

Radiotherapy services will be started at JDWNRH by June 2017, in collaboration with Care Australia, since the maximum referral outside the country is for cancer treatment. “One ENT doctor who is undergoing training on head and neck cancer will be joining the hospital by June 2017. With regard to kidney and urology diseases, one urologist is providing free services and the hospital is also planning to start kidney biopsy for diagnosis of kidney diseases,” said the health minister. “JDWNRH is trying to improve basic services to patients with heart disease and basic equipment like echocardiography and thread mill services have been improved.”

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