Healthy Pledges

The two parties poised for the final round of election and ready to take the parliament for another five years have their pledges to improve the health conditions. The pledges run parallel for both DPT and PDP with some measures differing in the approach.

DPT having brawled in the implementation of tenth five year plan  is looking for more capacity building side of the improvement in health interventions, while PDP is promising for more local-based technical improvements of the infrastructures required in health sector.

DPT’s pledge sounds like a general assumption of a hypothesis which is yet to be tested. Some pledges are too vague like this: Improve the quality and efficacy of health system. The assumption is that health system is a self-operating machine which can be just handled with a magical touch in a few years period. Similar is this one: Remodel the health system into a caring and compassionate service provider.

It carries the emotional lofty goal that cannot be done in a period of few decades, which has never shown that sign until now under compassionate and visionary rulers.

PDP wants to address the shortage of doctors immediately. No, it is not so easy to make it happen. At the time when doctors are leaving their professional careers to join parties, PDP’s pledge does not hold water. It cannot be immediate, but in the long run of improving the health system with enough manpower. The idea of ambulance helicopters for emergency evacuation is remarkably laudable idea of PDP, given the fair weather roads and inaccessible topography of the country.

It is quite indiscernible as to how the waiting time at OPD can be reduced when the advanced medical facilities are only available in the capital. Privatization of health care is also quite a new idea but that is going to be too inaccessible for major chunk of the rural poor.

Whatever may be the pledges that came at the election period, it will be several road bumps to improve the health interventions and healthy practice of Bhutanese populace. Where personal hygiene is not a concern, where rabid dogs  walk in streets with virus pouring out of their snarling mouth, where water borne diseases are still inflicting the children and infants, pneumonia causing death before one reaches to the health center, the pledges can peel off before actually establishing the right course. Nothing about the prenatal and post natal care of mothers and infants are in the pledge, and the interventions required meeting the immediate need of delivering mothers. Instead, figures are spelled out to reduce the maternal and infant mortality.

Doctors who never look at the history of illness in a patient can never deliver a compassionate and caring treatment. And the diagnosis which cannot identify the seriousness of an illness can never bring quality and efficacy in the health system.

Take the recent example of death of four people in the hospital from mushroom poisoning.