Lockdown has not interrupted the delivery of essential health services

Dechen Dolkar

Rinzin is three months pregnant. Due to her monthly check-up, the future mother was afraid to go to the hospital. Uneducated, and her husband in service since the start of the confinement, she decided to wait until the confinement was lifted.

Last week, she received a call from Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Hospital to come in for her routine follow-up. Her neighbor helped her get to the hospital.

“It was easier than normal,” said Rinzin, 29, who spent about 30 minutes in the hospital. “The hospital was calm and well organized. I’m so grateful that they called me to come,” she said.

The more than three-week lockdown may have caused some inconvenience, but the delivery of essential health services is one area that has not been interrupted by the lockdown.

Essential health services include important services such as vaccinations, chemotherapy, dialysis, reproductive health services including care during pregnancy and childbirth, drug refills and outpatient teleconsultations.

According to the Essential Health Services Focal Point, Hari Prasad Pokhrel, for Essential Health Services with the Ministry of Health, they provide and deliver all essential services to people in lockdown and in high-risk areas from their facilities. respective health.

However, he said chemotherapy services are only available in Thimphu at the National Referral Hospital. Dialysis units are available in five dzongkhags: Thimphu, Mongar, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Wangdue.

Hari Prasad said for chemotherapy wards, they have patient details including contact numbers and appointment dates kept in the chemotherapy units.

Patients in Thimphu are notified of their appointments a day in advance and must undergo the required blood test and RT-PCR. For those who have vehicles, the patients manage the transport themselves and for those who do not have a vehicle, the Bhutan Cancer Society helps in transporting the patients.

He said they had a list of all chemotherapy patients outside of Thimphu along with contact numbers, addresses and appointment dates on a weekly basis. “They are called and instructed to do a blood test and RT-PCR two days in advance.”

He said they ask the dzongkhag working group to issue travel permits to patients with their own vehicles and the respective dzongkhags are asked to arrange transportation.

Patients coming from red zones are cared for in a Covid-19 relocation service.

Most patients receiving chemotherapy services are in Thimphu. On average, five to seven patients benefit from the service every day.

Dialysis services are provided in five dzongkhags. In Thimphu, there are five dialysis sites at JDWNRH, one in isolation ward, ICU, inpatient ward, OPD and relocation ward.

“On average, about 50 patients receive services in these five locations combined,” he said.

Patients from the red zone are treated at the relocation service of the JDWNRH. Patients receive their next appointment after the dialysis session. “If people don’t have a vehicle, transportation is arranged by the Bhutan Kidney Foundation.”

He also said resupply of medicines and other basic services are provided by thromde health centers as people are allowed to walk in their own megazones. Teleconsultation and medicines are delivered to the three health centers.

“If patients need a physical examination, they are advised to come to the health centers.” he said.

In areas where there are no health centres, the Bhutan Red Cross coordinates with JDWNRH and provides door-to-door delivery.

For gewogs, medicines are collected by Dzongkhag health workers and sent to health facilities. People come to health facilities for supplies, as people are allowed to walk in their own gewogs.

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