Lyonchhen in his State of the National Address talked about the marked improvements in addressing the shortage of health workers.
The total number of doctors increased from 203 in 2013 to 345 in 2018 and except for Gasa and Haa, all the district hospitals now have a minimum of 3 doctors each. The total number of nurses and health assistants have also increased from 1,254 in 2013 to 2,364 in 2018 with most BHUs having at least one female health assistant.
He said there was an expansion of health infrastructure by building 6 new hospitals and 28 Basic Health Units during 11th plan, making it a total of 32 hospitals and 208 BHUs in a country.
“Despite not being a rich country, our people continue to be provided universal free health without the burden of high taxation”.
With regard to the services of JDWNRH, the major improvement has been on granting additional autonomy. “This has led to improvement in the delivery of services despite growing number of patients” PM said clarifying that there was no policy intent of government to commercialize or charge patients for their services. “These are unfounded rumors”.
Today, 118 ambulances cater to the people and about half of these were acquired in the 11th Plan. Another critical medical service initiated in the 11th Plan was the introduction of helicopter services for medical emergencies and evacuations. The helicopter service has been extremely beneficial and so far 368 medical evacuations have been carried out, some providing services to the most difficult and remotest of terrains.
“With the continuous improvements and priority accorded to our health care system, current life expectancy has reached 70.2 years from 66.3 years in 2005,” said the PM
A significant achievement is the status of the Health Trust Fund. The fund has doubled from Nu 1.2 billion to Nu 2.3 billion and this increase ensures that current and future generations continue to receive free medicine.
“Another important matter that I want to touch upon is on water. Many of us take water for granted due to its abundance in the country and the fact that 98.6% of households have access to drinking water according to PHCB 2017. However, many of us are not aware that almost 20% of households do not have reliable access to water and this affects the health of our people,” said Lyonchhen.
He said, therefore this must change and he called upon the responsible institutions to accord the highest priority in resolving this serious health matter. “We cannot continue to have erratic water supply when our rivers and streams are flowing right besides us on a 24/7 basis,” said the PM.