JDWNRH will increase the number of clients for medical examinations for visa purposes

Starting this Saturday and Sunday (weekdays), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) will increase the number of clients for medical examinations for Australian visa applications to reduce the backlog.

In the past, medical examination for visa purposes was done only twice a week with only eight clients or lesser than that. But now the hospital does more than 80 clients on Saturday and Sunday each which will be increased to around 100 or more per Saturday and Sunday.

The Administrative officer of JDWNRH said the hospital is doing medical examinations for 48 clients excluding children born in July 2012 every day and there are more than 2,000 applicants on the waiting list.

However, with prior permission from the hospital management, if there is anyone who is withdrawing or cancelling from the normal list, they are giving priority to the applicants whose courses start in May and June 2023 and the hospital is trying its best.

Currently, dependent and tourist visas are not being entertained because they do not have to report on time, unlike those applicants who are going for higher studies. “We are focusing on students,” said the ADM officer.

He also mentioned that there are also general medical certificates that the hospital has to look into and the hospital cannot take more clients in a day because only certified doctors can do the medical examinations in addition, these doctors also have to attend OPD, wards and do emergency duty.

“We are running X-Ray machines 24 hours and there are chances of machine breakdown. Although they have two machines but if one breaks down, the number of clients might go down,” he said.

As of today, the appointment date has reached August 2023. The hospital is trying to adjust and identify the applicants whose courses start this month and provide them with an earlier date, he said.

The officiating Medical Superintendent (MS) said clients are not able to get an appointment date early due to a shortage of manpower. Especially in X-Ray, there are only four radiologists. They are doing their normal duty till 3 pm and after that for medical examinations and go home by 9 pm. They are overworked.

The MS said people are also registering for eMedical for visa applications in Mongar, Gelephu and Thimphu at the same time so that whichever date is early, they go for it. When they are called, some said they have already done their eMedical.

Meanwhile, a few of the applicants having scars on their lungs during X-Ray for visa purposes feel that it must be due to COVID-19 because they do not have any history of TB or any other illness which would cause them to have scars in their lungs.

However, the officiating MS explained that scars in the lungs can happen from anything, and recovered TB patients can also have it and there are other infections or inflammations that may cause very minimal or huge or permanent changes to the lungs. These are visible.

However, the scars are not caused due to COVID-19 infection unless the patients have suffered from severe COVID infection and were hospitalized or were ventilated.

There are a lot of different things observed in the X-ray which are not necessary to be understood by everyone, said the MS.

Also, Bhutan is a TB-endemic country and somehow most of the people are exposed to TB as a child or even now. So, therefore there may be subtle changes in the lungs. “We may be having some latent TB but it doesn’t mean everyone has latent TB,” said the officiating MS.

Latent TB infection never develops TB disease. TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially people who have a weak immune system, the bacteria become active, multiply, and cause TB disease.

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