English | Dzongkha Sunday, April 11, 2021

Referring patients outside for treatment difficult amid COVID-19


Jul 30, 2020

On average, about 60 patients are referred for treatment outside the country in a month. Come COVID-19, and the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) could refer only one patient in the last four months.

According to the Medical Superintendent of the JDWNRH, referring patients outside has become difficult especially after the outbreak of COVID-19 in India.

Bhutanese patients are mostly referred to India and most are cases of cancer and heart patients.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new phase in the referral cases too. The Medical Superintendent of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital said they have not been able to refer patients especially due to lockdown measures in India.

Dr Gosar Pemba, the Medical Superintendent at the JDWNRH says the lone patient who was referred required urgent treatment. Whereas “the other cases who could wait are still on hold. We will send once the situation improves in India,” he said.

He said the hospital is currently trying to send a group of patients who require further treatments from the treatments carried out in the country and some treatments which are not available here.

“We have around 25 patients, we have discussed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also with the Delhi embassy. We are asking permission from Delhi, so if this comes through, then we will send those waiting group. And the plan is once we get permission, we will send them by flight because we have some patients who have completed their treatments at Kolkata and they want to come back,” he said.

The pandemic, however, gave an opportunity for Bhutan to start some treatments here in the country besides radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

And one successful in-country surgery the country saw is the implantation of a pacemaker. “For patients with irregular heart rate, they usually require a machine called pacemaker to be implanted. So one of our doctors who was undergoing his cardiology training in Thailand has come back, and he has been able to implant the pacemaker. We have treated two patients with pacemaker implantation in the hospital which we previously sent it outside for treatment. Now we also have around three doctors who are trained in ERCP,” he said.

He said they will continue to give the treatments available in the country post-pandemic. Only the complicated cases that cannot be treated here will be sent outside for treatment.

Kinley Dem

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