PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate GJPMCH

PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate GJPMCH

The joint inauguration of the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Hospital (GJPMCH) today, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, represents a watershed moment in the realm of healthcare infrastructure and service provision in Bhutan. This state-of-the-art facility, dedicated to the esteemed Her Majesty the Queen, signifies a leap forward in redefining standards for maternal and child healthcare not only within Bhutan but also across the region, with its pioneering facilities and comprehensive services poised to make a tangible difference in countless lives.

The GJPMCH stands as a beacon of the enduring friendship and cooperation between India and Bhutan, embodying a testament to their shared commitment to advancing public health. With a total budget exceeding Nu 1.3 Billion, generously provided by the Government of India (GoI), the hospital’s inception dates back to 2015.

The auspicious ground-breaking ceremony, graced by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen herself, underscored the monumental significance of this endeavor in bolstering healthcare accessibility and quality throughout Bhutan. The planning and design for the hospital were carried out in-house by the Health Infrastructure Development Division of the Department of Medical Supplies and Health Infrastructure, Ministry of Health, covering an area of approximately 4.20 acres above the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH).

Equipped with advanced medical equipment for intensive care units and operation theatres, the GJPMCH features obstetrics and gynecology department, pediatrics and neonatology department, Intensive Care Units (Paediatrics and Neonates), emergency and trauma center, operation theatres, specialized services, laboratory unit and community health unit.

Strategically nestled atop approximately 4.20 acres of land above the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the GJPMCH responds to the pressing need for expanded healthcare infrastructure, particularly in catering to the unique needs of mothers and children.

The current burden on JDWNRH, which serves as the National Referral Hospital, Western Regional Referral Hospital, and Thimphu Dzongkhag Hospital simultaneously, has led to overcrowding and bed shortages. With over 4000 births annually and an escalating demand for specialized services, the inauguration of GJPMCH is a timely intervention aimed at alleviating congestion and enhancing the efficiency of healthcare delivery.

Moreover, the completion of the 150-bed GJPMCH at JDWNRH in 2023 marks a significant milestone in Bhutan’s healthcare trajectory.

However, the endeavor to fortify healthcare infrastructure extends beyond the capital, with construction currently underway for a 65-bedded GJPMCH in Monggar, scheduled for completion by July 2025. This forthcoming facility, financed through India’s Project Tied Assistance, is envisioned to serve the six eastern districts of Bhutan, offering specialized services in pediatrics and gynecology.

The hospital, funded at a cost of Nu 681 Million through India’s Project Tied Assistance, aims to provide sub-specialty services and improve the overall quality of maternal and child healthcare in Bhutan.

Notably, the GJPMCH in Monggar stands as a testament to Bhutan’s commitment to sustainability and innovation in healthcare. As the country’s first-ever energy-efficient hospital, it exemplifies Bhutan’s dedication to environmental responsibility while providing cutting-edge medical care. Equipped with advanced medical technologies and departments dedicated to various medical specialties, this hospital aims to elevate maternal and child healthcare standards while ensuring energy independence and environmental stewardship.

In essence, the inauguration of the GJPMCH heralds a new era of collaboration and progress in healthcare delivery, underlining the shared commitment of India and Bhutan to enhancing the well-being and prosperity of their peoples. As these state-of-the-art facilities come online, they hold the promise of transforming lives, nurturing healthier communities, and laying the groundwork for a brighter and healthier future for generations to come.

Meanwhile, Mother and Child hospitals play a pivotal role in the healthcare ecosystem of any nation, serving as vital pillars for safeguarding the health and well-being of mothers and children. These specialized healthcare facilities are uniquely designed to address the complex needs of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, as well as the healthcare requirements of infants, children, and adolescents. Their significance lies not only in providing medical care but also in promoting preventive health measures, education, and support services that contribute to the overall welfare of families and communities.

A senior doctor at JDWNRH said that one of the foremost reasons why Mother and Child hospitals are deemed essential is their focus on maternal health. “Pregnancy and childbirth are significant life events that carry inherent risks, and access to quality maternal healthcare can significantly reduce maternal mortality rates and improve birth outcomes,” he said, adding that these hospitals offer a range of obstetric services, including prenatal care, labor and delivery management, and postnatal support, ensuring that expectant mothers receive comprehensive care tailored to their individual needs. Moreover, by offering specialized services such as high-risk obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine, these hospitals cater to women with complex medical conditions, further enhancing their capacity to provide safe and effective care.

In addition to maternal health, Mother and Child hospitals play a critical role in promoting child health and development. “The early years of life are crucial for a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development, and access to timely healthcare services can significantly impact their long-term well-being. These hospitals offer a wide range of pediatric services, including well-child visits, immunizations, developmental screenings, and treatment for common childhood illnesses and injuries,” he said. Furthermore, by providing specialized care for neonates and children with chronic conditions or complex medical needs, these hospitals ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

Beyond clinical care, Mother and Child hospitals serve as centers for health education and empowerment, equipping families with the knowledge and resources they need to make informed decisions about their health. Through prenatal classes, breastfeeding support groups, parenting workshops, and nutrition counseling sessions, these hospitals empower parents with the skills and information necessary to provide optimal care for themselves and their children. Additionally, by engaging with communities through outreach programs, maternal and child health campaigns, and school-based initiatives, these hospitals foster a culture of health and wellness that extends beyond their walls.

Moreover, Mother and Child hospitals play a crucial role in addressing health disparities and promoting health equity. Women and children from marginalized communities often face barriers to accessing healthcare services, including financial constraints, geographic isolation, cultural beliefs, and systemic inequalities. These hospitals strive to overcome these barriers by offering affordable and accessible care, reaching underserved populations through mobile clinics, telemedicine services, and community partnerships. By prioritizing inclusivity and cultural competence in their service delivery models, these hospitals ensure that no mother or child is left behind.

“While all hospitals are important, Mother and Child hospitals are indispensable components of a comprehensive healthcare system, providing a lifeline of support and care for mothers and children at every stage of life. Their multifaceted approach to healthcare encompasses clinical excellence, preventive interventions, education, and community engagement, making them invaluable assets to families, communities, and societies as a whole,” the doctor said.  By investing in the establishment and expansion of these vital healthcare facilities, nations can promote maternal and child health, reduce health inequities, and create a healthier, more prosperous future for generations to come.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu