Fifteen specialists from Bangladesh are expected to arrive in the country by mid-February this year.
This will address the shortage of medical specialists in the country.
Health minister Dechen Wangmo told Business Bhutan that with the current health facility and services there is a shortage of around 60% specialists in the country. However, with the
establishment of more health facilities and services in the future the requirement of specialists will be more.
Shortage of specialists exists in the most critical areas like pediatrics, nursing, dialysis, intensive care unit, emergency services, laboratory services, and ENT departments.
According to the annual health bulletin 2019, the country has a shortage of 2,201 medical professionals at various categories including specialists, nurses and technicians.
Two national medical specialists retired last year, one will be retiring this year and two will be retiring next year.
“Some of the specialists from Bangladesh already visited the country. They have already submitted registration and certificate to the medical council of Bhutan so that they can practice here,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that they are preparing a three to four days orientation program for them.
Lyonpo also mentioned that specialists will be disbursed depending on their specialty therefore most will probably go to Mongar and Gelephu referral hospital and few to Wangdue hospital.
The 15 specialists include six anesthesiologists, four general surgeons, two pediatricians, a gynecologist, a medical specialist and a nephrologist, who will work in Bhutan for three years.
Lyonpo said that their salary packages will be pegged on the number of years of experience varying from US$ 4,000 to US$ 4,500 a month.
According to the state of the nation report 2019, the government has plans to hire specialists from other countries so that it allows specialists in the country to undergo sub-specialization.
“We have requested our partners who have worked with us to look if there are any doctors who are interested to come during the sabbatical and practice here in Bhutan,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that they are reaching out to the partners like Germany and Australia. “Few have expressed interest and we hope that they will get finalized.”
According to Lyonpo, with the current services and the way ahead planned for health services, it is likely that the requirement of medical specialists will not be met. “We realize that, if we continue to send two to three doctors for specialization, it will take another 30 years to meet the requirement.”
From this year government is planning mass specialization program, where the government will send many national doctors for specialization.
“Meanwhile we will try to substitute doctors from outside temporarily. But our ultimate objective is that a Bhutanese must be treated by Bhutanese doctors, building the capacity and competency of our own doctors so that we are self-reliant in human resources,” said Lyonpo.
Lyonpo said that government is requesting member countries for fellowship seats and scholarship.
“We are quite positive and by this year we should be sending significant numbers for training. They will also train super specialists through the fellowship,” Lyonpo said.
In the 12th Five Year Plan, the health ministry targets to increase the number of specialists from 41 to 212.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu