Monday, 9 June 2008

Bhutan : Mongar hospital inaugurated

9 June, 2008 - Four operation theatres, a well equipped intensive care unit (ICU), a heat ventilation and air condition system, nurse call buttons, centralized oxygen supply, a modern laboratory and lifts are among the many new features of the regional referral hospital in Mongar, which was inaugurated on June 6.

Built at a cost of Nu 537 million (including equipment), with government of India funding, the 150-bed regional hospital, which will cater to the six eastern dzongkhags and Bumthang, has all the facilities of the national referral hospital in Thimphu, except for the MRI/ CT scan services.

Rising up to six storeys in height, the hospital building with its unique design is perhaps the largest structure in the eastern region. Each floor comprises two blocks for the different services, wards, nursing stations, kitchen, laundry and administrative offices.

The construction work, which started in May 2005, was scheduled to be completed within 24 months, but took about 32 months.

“From the time I had the opportunity to visit Mongar and see this hospital under construction for the first time in April 2006, I’ve been waiting for the day when it would be inaugurated and begin serving the people,” said Indian ambassador Sudhir Vyas, who inaugurated the new hospital with the health minister, Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa. “Health care has been a priority sector in the varied tapestry of our bilateral economic cooperation from its beginning in the 1960s, be it in terms of medical education and training, human resource development, as well as infrastructure. It is my hope and conviction that our cooperation in this field, exemplified by this hospital that stands before us, will support these efforts and take them to greater heights.”

The health minister, Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa, said that the inauguration of the Mongar hospital marks another watershed in the history of Indo-Bhutan relationship and also in the history of development of health services in the country. “On behalf of our Kings, the government and the people, I would like to take this opportunity to convey through you our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the government and people of India for the unwavering support extended to us in all fields and especially in the health sector.”

The minister said that the biggest challenge in the health sector was the acute shortage of medical professionals at all levels, especially doctors and nurses, which the government was trying to address by establishing a medical college.

With the infrastructure ready, the immediate need of the hospital is to strengthen its staff numbers. “The same team of nurses, who were present in the old hospital, will be in the new one, so there won’t be much changes in the beginning besides its modern amenities,” said Dechen Choiphel, nursing superintendent of Mongar eastern regional referral hospital.

According to the Mongar medical superintendent, the hospital is short of a dermatologist, radiologist and ENT specialist and would need at least 250 nurses to function smoothly. There was also a need for support staff to keep the hospital clean.

Meanwhile visitors to the new hospital are taking time to adjust to its size and layout.

The foundation stone of the Mongar regional referral hospital was laid by K S Jasrotia, the former Indian ambassador to Bhutan, and presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

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