The DNT’s biggest and main pledge from its long list of pledges is to build a super specialty hospital that can take care of referral patients.
The Bhutanese has learnt that the government is in discussions with the Government of India (GoI) seeking up to Nu 10 bn in funding for the super specialty hospital.
A senior government official said that the GoI has already given in-principal commitment to fund the super specialty hospital and the details are being worked out between the two governments.
The government has been asked to submit a detailed proposal to the GoI on the project and a final agreement is yet to be signed.
The former government had already secured a commitment from the GoI for a Cancer hospital in Bhutan as part of celebrations to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties.
It now appears that what the current government has done is that it has managed to secure a major top up on the original cancer hospital project and in doing so expand it far beyond the original commitment.
As of now the hospital is set to be located at the Education City site though the location is not officially finalized.
The official said that the hospital will require around 10 to 12 acres of land which is not available in Thimphu.
He said that the hospital will not be the only structure as the site could also see the development of a high altitude sports training facility.
The hospital, in the first stage, is planning to establish services for cancer, kidney and heart centers first as these three cases constitute the highest amount of referral cases outside Bhutan.
The official pointed out that Bhutan already spends around Nu 120 to Nu 130 mn a year and this amount can be spent in this hospital.
“We will still have a referral system but the cases will now be referred to this hospital in Bhutan,” said the official.
One major issue will be manpower in terms of doctors and medical staff given that the current JDWNRH itself requires all the medical staff that it can get.
Here the official said that the government’s plan is to do a tour of the surrounding countries like India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and others and hire doctors and specialists from there.
“Why fly to Calcutta when the same specialist can come from there to here for a few days and treat the patients in the hospital,” said the official.
These foreign doctors will also help train upcoming Bhutanese doctors and medical staff within Bhutan.
Bhutan currently has a the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) which is Bhutan’s first medical university.
Will treatment at the hospital will be free, the hospital will also come up with certain commercial packages for Bhutanese who can avail services here instead of going to Bangkok or other destinations.
“For those who want to pay there can be executive services like certain checks and facilities,” said the official.
Even foreign medical tourists can come and user the center’s executive and high end service for a fee.
The Nu 10 bn project is outside the 12th plan and there is no funding for it within the plan.
In an earlier Friday meet session the Health Minister Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo had said that the total budget allocation for the health sector for five years is Nu 3.5 bn, while the health minister said the construction of a tertiary health care is above and beyond their allocation.
She said that the government has a huge responsibility to mobilize the available resources judiciously and the they are working day and night to explore various sources of resources.
She had also said that this is one of the biggest challenges that she was very passionate to pursue it and that she was confident that the government of the day will be able to fulfill this mandate.
The conservative estimate given for the hospital was at Nu 7 bn at the time but this was expected to go up with all the facilities.
The minister had said that they are trying to iron out various aspects of the construction of such a hospital. In the concept note, it is clear on what is needed to be incorporated in each phase and the kinds of services to be included.
Lyonpo had said that the concept note was prepared based on thorough research and they studied the type of service referred outside and the top diseases plaguing the country.