The Member of Parliament from Nanong-Shumar questioned the lifting of gynecological services from Pemagatshel hospital. She said it has been done without a consultation with local government and asked for an explanation from the Health Minister.
She said Pemagatshel is one of the biggest dzongkhags in Bhutan with 11 gewogs, 57 chiwogs and with the population of 20, 000 people.
In response, the Health Minister, Tandin Wangchuk, said the gynecological services in Pemagatshel were first introduced in October 2012. He said such services are available during the time of birth in all the hospitals regardless of hospital size.
He said gynecological services are provided for the convenience of women while giving birth and to look into health issues related to women.
Lyonpo said, “There are only 12 hospitals with gynecologists. Such services are needed in all 20 dzongkhags. For that reason, a study was done by the health ministry at 10 places except for JDWNR hospital, and gynecological services are being provided wherever it is required.” He also added that such services are included in the 11th FYP, keeping in mind the population size and number of patients in the dzongkhags.
Samdrup Jongkhar is included in the plan as the dzongkhag has the population size that is in need of the service. Lyonpo further shared that a proper study conducted in 2013 found that Pemagatshel had 149 patients that required gynecological services. Out of which, 50 patients were from Pemagatshel and 66 were from Deothang and Samdrup Jongkhar. There were 33 patients from Reserbo which falls under Trashigang.
As per the health ministry’s policy, keeping in mind the limited number of gynaecologists in the country, the ministry provides only one gynecologist for Trashigang, Pemagatshel, Samdrup Jongkhar.
Lyonpo said there are not enough gynecologists in the country, and just three more are on the way by 2018. For that reason, as per the health policy, it was decided to shift gynecological services to Deothang as included in 11th FYP.
The Health Minister said it is not true that the lifting of the services was done without proper consultation with the people. He said a study found that patients in Pemagatshel or those that come via Nganglam to Pemagatshel are not affected as the distance from Deothang to Nganglam is around 76 kms, a shorter distance to travel.
The Health Minister said shifting the gynecological services to Samdrup Jongkhar and particularly in Deothang was done because of a more convenient workplace for the gynecologist and the journey and time to reach the hospital is easier. He said this was done with proper discussion and then such a policy was made and a budget plan of 2011 was decided.
He added that the health policy is working on increasing the number of gynecologists so there are enough to be posted in all 20 dzongkhags in the future.