Bhutan

Healthy debate is necessary

Sep 6, 2017
Sad it is that corporatising Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has become a fight between the government and media. At the core of the issue is the nation’s effort to provide a platform to address the pressing issue of specialist retention and to improve the overall quality of health services.
 
This debate missed the point. And that is dangerous, especially for a country like ours where the Constitution mandates that the people should enjoy free health for all times to come. When such major decisions are considered, we must allow space for healthy debate. Pointing fingers at each other will do no one any good.
 
The general understanding is that if the hospital is corporatised health services could be expensive for the people. But the government recently said that the move is not to privatise public health facilities and services.
 
“Specifically, it is not meant to encourage commercialisation of services or to levy charges to patients directly for the basic public health services,” the ministry said. How clearly not is what people need to understand.
 
The need facing the country today is maintaining and, increasing, the pool of medical specialists and improving the quality of services and improving the financial benefits of the hospital workforce.
 
The ultimate aim is to bring about better accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in the delivery of health services, we are told. But is corporatisation the only option left with us?
 
Opening the debate is more important today than trying to close it. If we are violating the Constitution by not making efforts to retain the small and diminishing group of specialists, are we doing any good to the country?
 
How corporatising JDWNRH will not make health services inaccessible to the people need to be explained. That hasn’t come out clearly yet, and that is bothering the common people. We are told by the government that it holds the Constitution sacrosanct and will ensure that all decisions will be complied with the sacred state policies and the rule of law. Along the lines, we also read that given the changing landscape of health service delivery and emerging needs, it is imperative for the health system to adapt and proactively manage these transitions.
 
What this implies is that Royal Civil Service Commission and the Pay Commission have not been able to work out a clear and sensible measure. Who is playing safe here? And who is benefiting from this in the means?
 
Let the debate continue and make it a healthy one. That’s the most sensible way to adopt as yet. Corporatising the hospital could be easy, but what might follow and who takes the blame is not certain.
 
Kuensel Online, September 6, 2017

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