For nearly eight years now, Shali sub-post has made the lives of people in Gonpung-Shali Chiwog easier and more convenient. But with the increasing population, it has become difficult for the lone Health Assistant to provide timely and quality services. Today, the Health Assistant sees about 400 patients a month. A sub-post is a primary healthcare facility that has a permanent structure and is manned by one health professional.
64- year-old Tshechu Dema is one of the villagers who frequently visit the sub-post. She is diabetic and has to visit the health centre for medical checkups. She says when the lone Health Assistant is out of the station, it hinders the service.
“The lone HA has to cater to three villages here. It is very inconvenient. Sometimes the centre will be closed when the HA has to go and attend training and meetings. And it is very difficult for us to visit Pema Gatshel hospital. We would be grateful if we are provided with additional health staff.”
“Even if we want to visit the Pema Gatshel hospital, it’s difficult getting a ride. With the lone HA, it is very difficult for us. And because the HA is male, it’s uncomfortable for female patients like me to show up for checkups. We would be thankful if we are provided with a female staff as well,” said Phuntsho Lhamo, another resident.
“We have to pay about Nu 1,500 to 2,000 to hire a vehicle to go to Pema Gatshel Hospital. Likewise, with just one HA here, when children become sick, we have to take them to the Pema Gatshel Hospital which takes almost a day. And this hampers their study,” said Chojay, Gonpung-Shali Tshogpa.
There are nearly 700 people in Gonpung-Shali Chiwog. The HA said providing quality and timely service without increasing waiting time for patients is difficult without enough manpower.
“The patients have to wait in queue as I have to handle all of them alone. For instance, if I have a friend then one can check and another one can dispense the medicine. That way we can deliver faster service to the public. But it’s challenging having to cater to the patients alone. But I am trying my best to serve them,” said Langa Dorji, the HA.
The issue was also raised during the recent Dzongkhag Tshogdu.
“In a day he treats 15 to 20 patients. So, in a month he is treating 400 to 500 patients. And due to the ministry’s policy of having one HA, God forbid if he gets sick then the sub-post might have to permanently close,” said Sonam dendup, Shumar Gup.
The Dzongkhag Tshogdu decided to write to the health ministry seeking a proper study on the need for additional staff in the Shali sub-post.
Meanwhile, the Dzongkhag Health Officer said, as per the health ministry’s policy, a sub-post is not entitled to additional health staff.
“A sub-post is eligible for only one staff. If it gets upgraded with the increase in population, then the eligibility will change accordingly,” said Singye Dorji, the District Health Officer.
According to the Workload Indicators for Staffing Needs to be conducted by the World Health Organization in 2019, there was a mismatch of facilities and staffing with the actual demand by population needs in the country.
The indicator recommended adopting appropriate health workforce planning interventions to reduce the critical shortage of the health workforce.
Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel
Edited by Sonam Pem