A strategy to tackle disease outbreak like the recent dengue outbreak in Phuentsholing will be drawn up and implemented from next year.
Meeting the management of Phuentsholing general hospital yesterday, Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that if implemented well ahead of tome in phase wise, the number of people affected will be cut down to single digits.
Lyonchhen commended the work of the hospital staff and met with the patients. He asked the hospital management to submit a report. “Draw a plan and let us know. We will see how we can go together,” he said.
In their presentation to the Lyonchhen, the hospital team said that 2,227 people were tested dengue positive as of September 7 in Phuentsholing. The private diagnostic centres reported another 894 confirmed positive cases. About 19 cases were referred to Thimphu.
The hospital management highlighted several challenges the hospital experienced during the outbreak. The hospital has only eight beds in the emergency unit. Trollies were used to cater to increasing number of people.
Dr Thinley Pelzang also said that the rapid test kit used to diagnose dengue was “not sensitive.”
“Many cases could not be detected,” the doctor said.
Although the report would “clinically” point towards a dengue fever symptom, the result was negative. However, the results came as positive in the private diagnostic centres.
The hospital staffs were also exhausted it was highlighted. However, the hospital has prolonged their timing until four pm to cater to patients.
Dr Thinley Pelzang said that there was poor response and participation from the community. Porous border and Bhutanese living across the border were other challenges that made the dengue fever difficult to contain.
It was also learned that Jaigaon and Pasakha were the places from where most dengue cases were reported.
Lyonchhen said that it would not suffice to simply say there were no public participation. Although there is no control across the border, there should a good control of places within Bhutan.
“It is just a matter of campaigns and awareness enforcement and the way of approach,” he said, explaining lessons must have been drawn from experiences before.
Responding to the problem of rapid test kit, the Prime Minister said that health ministry should now come up with more specific and sensitive test kits. It is an unwanted surprise to know that the rapid test kit being used is not sensitive, he added.
“If it is not sensitive, you must immediately report to the department of the public health. You should not go on using it,” he said questioning accountability of supplying test kits that were not sensitive.
“There should not be any complacency in health as it is a dealing with human beings at the critical point of their life when they are sick.”
Meanwhile, Phuentsholing dungpa Karma Rinchen said that there were some policy issues regarding the hospital administration. Since the hospital is only accountable to directly report outbreak to its headquarters, thromde and dungkhag were left out.
“There is a gap between,” the dungpa said, adding thromde and dungkhag were not informed at the right time.
Lyonchhen Dr Lotay tshering said he agreed to the issue and elaborated the trend existed in other hospitals too. He said he would look into solving it within a week.
The director with the department of public health, Dr Karma Lhazeen, who was in the Lyonchhen’s team yesterday said the department will look into all the matters and take the lead.
The first dengue case was reported in July 5 this year. The fever has so far claimed four lives across the country, out of which one was in Phuentsholing.
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing