With hospitals across the country short of medical professionals, a growing number of individuals are turning to medical services offered by private diagnostic centres and unauthorised clinics. People say they are visiting private centres for faster and more efficient healthcare solutions. BBS talked to many residents in Thimphu, who said there is a need for more authorised private clinics in the country.
Considering the long waiting hours and a lack of health workers at the national referral hospital, many people choose to visit the authorised private diagnostic centres and other unauthorised clinics.
“I came from Gelephu to Thimphu for a medical checkup but I got an appointment only for the 4th of October. It is too long for me to wait. Therefore, I chose private service. The service here is faster and reliable too,” said Bhakti Ram Dungana, a patient.
“We do not regret availing ourselves of the medical services from private clinics. The services are worth the money, it is faster. I think it will be very convenient for everyone if there are more private clinics like this in every district,” said Ugyen Lham, another patient.
“It is challenging for us to wait in line. And sometimes we cannot meet the doctors at the hospitals. It would be better if the government could either authorise more private clinics or improve the services and number of staff at hospitals,” said Mongali Limboo, who is also a patient.
According to the health ministry, patients should not avail themselves of the services from unauthorised private clinics due to health safety concerns.
Recently, the ministry issued a notification after rumours circulated about patients visiting unauthorised private clinics in the capital.
“This is basically to do with the public’s health safety. Since these unauthorised clinics are not validated by any agencies, there are high risks in terms of the qualification of the service providers. The other thing is the quality of the equipment and the services provided cannot be assured,” said Ugyen Tashi, Chief Programme Officer of the Department of Health Services.
The health ministry is in the process of drafting the Bhutan Healthcare Services Regulations, which includes guidelines to improve both public and private health services.
Officials said that the ministry has plans to authorise more diagnostic centres and private clinics with priority in dental services.
According to the ministry, for now, they do not have any rules regarding private clinics and diagnostic centres.
Once the regulation is finalised, the ministry plans to strictly monitor the operation of unauthorised private clinics.
The ministry has no record on the number of unauthorised private clinics. However, there are nine private diagnostic centres in the country.
Edited by Tshering Zam