We are addressing doctor shortages: MoH Minister

During the meet-the-press session held yesterday, the Health Minister Lyonpo Tandin said that in order to curb the doctor shortage in the country, the department has requested the Royal Civil Service Commission to waive the pre entry examination for the doctors and has also negotiated with Ministry of Education (MoE) to provide 30 full scholarships for students to undertake MBBS every year.

According to Lyonpo the current doctor shortage are addressed through recruiting expatriate doctors from countries such as India, Myanmar and Cuba on contract basis.

He said, “Presently, there are 260 doctors in a country and if we take the population as 600,000, every 2300 citizens have a doctor each. This is fairly good enough compared to other regions.” However, there are various measures which were reviewed and are being put into action.

He said that in order to retain the specialists in the country the ministry of health is currently working on a proposal to ensure retention of specialist in the health care system which will be submitted to the government for consideration. The government is already paying allowances of 20-40% on top of their salary to the specialist (professional allowances).

The ministry also provides fast track promotion to the specialist after completion of three years giving them an opportunity to be equally senior to those who complete their undergraduate studies in four years duration.

MOH is also giving preference to the specialist in terms of availing continuing medical education both in country and ex country. Also the ministry is also exploring the possibilities of increasing the salary packages and other incentives and benefits to the specialist. The specialist is also being paid certain percentages from the special consultation-off hour clinics which are an extra income for them.

As of now, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has 100 doctors which is highest in the country and Haa dzongkhag has lowest with only one doctor.

The minister said that except for Haa which has one doctor and Gasa which has two doctors all other Dzongkhags had three or more doctors.

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