There are several gaps in our health system today. Patient safety is among the main.
Obviously, awareness and education have not been robust enough. We need to do more.
The lack of communication, or the redundancy of it all, is still a major problem for Bhutan, even in this day and age.
And, to make the matters worse, everyone seems to find a way to get away conveniently when questions are raised!
There is a problem when the people have to resort to social media to point out the systemic deficiencies. And when that happens, the debates and arguments, sometimes, tend to lose meaning in the cacophony that ensues. We have seen it, all too often.
Health being the biggest sector, shortfalls can be there, of course. But because health is the biggest and one of the most important sectors, complacency cannot be allowed to sink in, at any cost. And, so with education.
However, these are the two of the most important sectors in the country that are suffering from deep-seated cultural flaws. The solution lies in understanding why and how we let these realities just come and pass.
The biggest fear today is that substandard could become our standard. In a way, we are already mired deep into this apathetic reaction to urgent human problems.
We may observe any number of World Patient Safety days, as we did recently, but how do we guarantee that our people are getting the right services at the right time?
Launching a hotline—1414—is an important beginning, yes. But how many of us know what to do with it? The many hotline services we have are effectively unavailing!
The themes of health awareness programmes, therefore, need to dig deeper and should be made more pragmatic.
Educating the communities, one at a time, could be the most sensible way. We need to reach out.
When we talk about patient safety, we mean the health of the whole system from reporting to response to hospital care and beyond.
If patient safety means no harm should come to a patient who is seeking treatment in a health centre, our failure to deal with such emergencies point to our inability to equal to the demands facing our health system today.
So, more by token, who is to blame? For example—an ailing child in remote Dagana or an ambulance that’s run out of fuel?
There is too much safety in some of our systems, perhaps, but not much accountability, which is keeping us from aiming or rising higher.
Maybe we accept and entertain the culture of dancing attendance on somebody or something too much that we find ourselves cornered this way, but this must change. The lead must come strong from somewhere. The good thing is we know how it works.
Nothing positive will happen otherwise. Let’s not forget that we are talking about patient safety and the need to initiate a major overhaul in our health system. The sooner it is done, the better.