Relocating the NITMH is to create an integrative health system, according to the health minister
Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo divulged the government’s intention to relocate the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (NITM) to the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu during the question-answer session of the National Assembly.
Relocating the NITM, which is now located at Kawangjangsa, will benefit the public in being able to access a comprehensive package of services, the minister said.
“Moving the location will help the public more than the government and we see a high chance to provide good services to the public,” the health minister said while answering the query from MP Drungtsho Karma Wangchuk from the Chhumig-Ura constituency, who asked the minister about the rationale and reason for relocating the NITM.
Lyonpo added that relocating the NITMH aims to create an integrative health system in which patients will receive treatment from any form of the medicinal system based on what ails them and their current conditions.
According to the minister, one of the ministry’s top priorities is to build a Multi-Disciplinary Super-Specialty hospital (MDSS) on the JDWNRH premise, which would provide around five other services including cancer and kidney disease treatments.
“For instance, if a cancer patient is receiving chemotherapy at the JDWNRH, they can also receive other forms of traditional medicine services without having to travel further, as the hospital is in the same premise,” the minister said.
While a majority of the patients are today being referred abroad for the treatments, the ministry intends to begin all the services within the JDWNRH with the MDSS so that patients do not have to travel out of the country for treatments.
Lyonpo also added that relocating the NITM would be a sort of also acknowledging the reality that traditional practices of medicines exist in Bhutan and are not ‘alternative’ but are highly important to the health care system.
“It is critical that people are aware of such facilities and if we relocate the NITM to the JDWNRH premise, people will be aware and more people will use the services. However, if we keep it separate and do not shift in the JDWNRH premise, there is a high possibility that it will be left outside only, with no full utilization of the services,” the health minister said.
According to the health minister, the JDWNRH receives over 600,000 patients per year, while the NITM receives a little over 100,000 patients per year.
According to the minister, as a result of relocating the hospital, people will be aware of it and if allopathic and modern science treatments are offered in the same place, the public will be able to use all the services.
“If we wish to promote traditional medicines, we must relocate the NITM to the JDWNRH premise, and at the same time, modern and traditional forms of treatment should coexist,” Lyonpo added.
Meanwhile, Lyonpo also added that just relocating the hospital wouldn’t have an impact on the services it provides.
“We all understand the importance of traditional medicines and it is also mandated by the constitution to promote traditional medicines,” Lyonpo said.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu