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Surgeon shortage

Publication Date : 26-09-2012


Bhutan has all kinds of shortages, from teachers to architects, engineers to doctors and, what is most sought after for these professionals, training opportunities and incentives.

Lately, however, it is the shortage of doctors and, within that, an acute shortage of surgeons is growing to become a major problem, especially given the piling number of backlog cases.

At the national referral hospital in Thimphu, people from various parts of the country drive long distances to the hospital, often only to find themselves languishing on long waiting lists.

The general observation among patients visiting the national referral hospital in the capital city is that, while they still get care, the process was often long, slow and getting more difficult by the day.

While life expectancy has improved considerably, as the country continues to fast track towards development, to cope with the pressure the growing Bhutanese population adds everyday, the pool of doctors has not kept pace.

Neither has the newly built 350-bed hospital, which is almost always occupied, with a deluge of patients being referred everyday for some disease or the other from across the country.

It does not help to have emergency cases for surgeons and doctors alike, thanks to, what the country has in ample amounts, cars and alcohol supply, a combination of which makes a deadly cocktail to drop people to the emergency wards.

Those awaiting a surgery, already on the long waiting list, have to push their schedule further back. Some patients have returned to the waiting list from the surgeon’s bed because of such emergency cases.

A shortage of physicians is bound to occur, as population continues to increase, and the number of specialist doctors stagnates.

While there seems to be no solution to doctor and surgeon shortage, a few medical practitioners have shared their two cents on the issue.

A city hospital to cater to people that routinely visited the hospital for usual checkups, while the referral hospital can be solely kept for more serious patients and manned by specialised doctors.

The other suggestion worth considering was further extending the off-hour clinic services, where doctors and specialists could be made use of, of course for a certain fee.

In fact, surgeries can also be done then, much to the benefit of some patients, who can afford; and the waiting list for those, who cannot, will be shortened.

That way, even the equipment and facilities that remain underutilised could be optimised, while doctors could hone their skills in the process.


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