A withering 45 year old diabetic man dragged himself to the Punakha Hospital on three occasions to be turned away each time in absence of a dialysis machine.
About medicine and lack of staffs, a 37-year old woman said “We come from Samdingkha and it is very far away- we hardly get taxis and even if we do get them we would have waited for hours and we have to reserve the taxi journey for a much higher payment”.
The Punakha public is downright distraught and senses many things are not in order with the understaffed dzongkhag hospital which is short of medicines and many outdated machines and worse, the lack of it. People say the root of all causes is ‘management lapses’.
“There is no proper medicine as well,” said the 45-year old man under anonymity. He said that his wife had also come along with him but she had to go back as there were no nurses and had only been called in days later.
The aggrieved people are of the opinion that ‘one hardly finds the required person in the hospital and in their old age travelling one district to another for check up has become a nightmare for them’.
A health official in Punakha said that the diabetics’ machine was not there for the past ‘two months’.
Sherab, a woman in her late 30s said, “when we come to the hospital, there are no staffs or there are no medicines.” She added that she has to look after her children and household chores. She said there’s a serious lack of proper medical shop in the nearest town, Khuruthang. “It has been shifting now and then and today there is not a single one,” the woman said.
On the same lines, another woman said “I had this chest problem from a very long time and I am still with the same problem and have been coming here to listen to the same problem of the hospital. There are no proper services nor do they send me to the capital”. She further said that she ‘blames’ the government for it.
Choeda Gyaltshen, Medical Officer of Punakha Hospital said “The medicine problem is on and off, it finishes very soon and it has been such a pressing issue for the past two years. The supply is from the center- the Thimphu national referral hospital (JDWNRH).
He, however, said I don’t agree with the nurse problem as the hospital is 40 bedded and we have 11 nurses and patients demand their services for 24 hours which is not really practical.
“Most of the ‘ENTI’ and ‘Dental’ staffs have to follow the calendar around the schools in the dzongkhags and the patients must have ‘coincided’ in the same time,” he said.
With regard to the machines, he said that they have been following up with the requisition and diabetic’s machine has now been temporarily replaced by ‘Glucometer test’ which is done in the laboratory.
The medical officer also said that the ‘medicine’ problem is there with every hospital and they use from one another sometimes. Every hospital has to send the need of medicine both drug and non-drug every Wednesday- which means the problems are clearly stated every week.
The Punakha hospital is also facing some bio-chemistry problems as well for the past one to two months, said the medical officer.
In the meantime, most of the public that come to the hospital are monks as well as villagers who flock the hospital sometimes with genuine problem and at other times, fake. The educated lot and the health officials in Punakha say that ‘such pressing needs should be answered by the government as they have been encountering such problems from a very long time’. There is also an immediate need for a proper medical shop in the town.
“Previously there was a well maintained medical shop called Naku Medical shop which now has been replaced by another, which keeps on changing his shop and now his shop is also not there. We don’t know what to say when outsiders ask for a medical shop,” a resident of Khuruthang town said.
He said that most of the time they go to the neighboring town Bajothang where they have comparatively good medicines.
Puran Gurung / Punakha