The govt. is also working to hire specialized doctors from Sri Lanka in view of the expansion of health services in the country
Six of the 19 Bangladeshi medical specialists working in different hospitals in the country have resigned till date.
They include two anesthesiologists and general surgeons, an orthopedic surgeon and a pediatrician.
Their resignation has taken many by surprise amid ongoing pandemic conditions and creating a further shortage at a time when the government is striving to provide quality health care and clinical services in the country.
Health secretary Dr. Pandup Tshering said that it was voluntary resignation and the ministry had to accept their choices. “I think it was their personal choice. Maybe some of them must have got a better job or they have their own problems,” he said.
During their service in the country, he said, the specialists have served the people well. “We are very grateful to the government and the people of Bangladesh and also the doctors who came to work in Bhutan,” he added.
These specialized doctors were recruited in February 2020 following Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering’s state visit to Bangladesh where he requested the government of Bangladesh to send medical specialists to ease the acute shortage of specialists in the country.
According to the signed special service agreement (SSA), their two-year contract under a special package from 15 February 2012 completes on 14 February 2022.
The specialists were offered a special package of a monthly salary of Nu 345,000 for the specialists and Nu 311,000 for the sub-specialists on a contract basis.
Given the shortage of medical specialists in view of the health service expansion in the country and also considering the ongoing pandemic, the health ministry recommended the government to extend the services of the remaining 13 specialists for one more term – February 2022 to February 2024.
This, the director for the directorate services of the health ministry, Tenzin Chophel, said, is because the ministry needs their services due to shortage of specialists and also expanding specialist services in the dzongkhag hospitals.
The team includes five anesthesiologists, three general surgeons, two pediatricians, a gynecologist, a medical specialist and a nephrologist who is a sub-specialist currently serving at the national referral hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu, Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital, Phuentsholing, Wangdue and Samtse hospitals.
Meanwhile, to ensure seamless specialist services where specialist doctors had resigned, Tenzin Chophel said the ministry will deploy new specialists graduating from the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) and abroad.
In addition, it would also manage transfers from JDWNRH and temporary deployment from nearby regional referral hospitals during emergencies.
And in its quest to combat the shortage of health specialists in the country, the health ministry has been working to hire some specialists from Sri Lanka since 2019 but had to halt because of the ongoing pandemic.
As the country has become critically short of specialists, the health ministry says it requires support from the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to secure admissions for fellowship and sub-specialization courses in the Southeast Asia and South Asia regions.
Going by the annual health bulletin 2021, the country is still lower against the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of one doctor per 1000 population.