Empty rooms and locked cupboards are what remain of the Pemagatshel Hospital’s gynecological unit now following the transfer of the hospital’s gynaecologist and support staff. The sign on the door now reads as tuberculosis and leprosy unit. Gynecological and other operation services may not return any time soon to Pemagatshel Hospital.
This was one important issue that was passionately discussed in the recently concluded Pemagatshel Dzongkhag Tshokdu (DT). The DT members took to the floor one after another and expressed their concerns and dismay at the decision to withdraw the gynecological services from Pemagatshel Hospital which entailed lot of mobilization effort in the first place.
“We are being asked by people on why the gynecological services are no longer available in the hospital and have been finding it hard to convince people that, the government may resume the services soon,” said Zobel Gup Pema Dorji.
Shumar Gup said that, while the decision was a cause of concern for the people, he is confident that the government must be in a process to send a new team back to the hospital soon and justified that the dzongkhag hospital in Pemagatshel is ideally located to cater to a large population in the region.
The DT members said that Pemagatshel hospital is closer to the two dungkhags of Wamrong and Thrimshing under Trashigang and at least three upper gewogs of Samdrup Jongkhar for referral services. And with Nganglam road nearing completion, people from the three gewogs under Nganglam can also avail the services at Pemagatshel without having to worry about the travel on the notorious Assam road for referral cases. They said that, gynecological services at this hospital catered to a large population base that is located far from any referral hospitals nearby.
The Dzongkhag Health Officer Gopal Hingmang said the decision was taken without even consulting the dzongkhag and it has come as a set back after spending time and resources in putting up a workable unit in the first place.
“It was a setback for us too as it took us lot of effort to mobilize resources from different places and just when we are getting into places other necessities, the services have been withdrawn,” he said.
But the DHO admitted that there are areas that the hospital lacked for a proper gynecological unit. Despite this, he said, the gynecological services must have remained as the unit had been put under good use during the last one year.
DT Chariman and Chongshing Gup said that with the dzongkhag headquarters to be relocated to Denchi, the hospital is set to inherit abundant land for setting up additional facilities if required.
The members said that additional staff quarters had been built to the existing ones for the additional services at the hospital. Hospital has a good approach road and there will be abundant water supply with the commissioning of the near complete Khonmari water project.
The local government officials also said that while electricity is reliable here, the hospital has already mobilized a generator on top of the one on the standby commissioned by the BPC. The hospital is also soon setting up a canteen in its premise to cater to the dietary needs of patients and caretakers.
During the last one year of commissioning the genealogical services in Pemagatshel hospital, the unit saw a total of 343 obstetric admissions. Of these, 135 cases have been referred in from Basic Health Units (BHUs) under Pemagatshel and other nearby places like lower Trashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar. This indicated that a large number of cases where from the dzongkhag and many more from the neighbouring areas were also able to avail services at Pemagatshel hospital with relative ease.
Only 31 cases with complications have been referred outside Pemagatshel hospital in one year period after the introduction of gynecological services according to hospital sources. And there were no maternal deaths during the same period.
Dzongda Tshering Kezang said that the dzongkhag have already conveyed the concerns of the people to the health ministry over the withdrawal of one year old gynecological services from the hospital.
The house discussed in detail about an earlier appeal made by the Gups to the government in February this year following concerns raised by people over the withdrawal of this services. The DT resolved unanimously to submit to the government to reconsider the decision to withdraw the services from this hospital that has the potential to be construed in other context.