The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) service at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu resumed on August 19, almost 11 months after the hospital stopped providing the service.
About eight patients availed themselves of the service on the first day after the service resumed.
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, during the inauguration of the upgraded MRI machine yesterday, said that critical care that required immediate MRI services was always taken care. “We have referred them abroad at the expense of the government, like any other referrals.”
A total of 74 patients who required immediate MRI service were referred to Siliguri in India.
The hospital spent about Nu 700,000 for the referrals.
As of August 18, there were about 670 patients on the waiting list.
Prabha Katel, head of hospital’s bio-medical engineering services, said that the hospital used to provide MRI services to more than 2,000 patients every year. “We had more prescription. This could be a reason for a huge caseload.”
She said that 670 cases in 11 months was quite less. This, she said, could be because many of the cases were addressed by the CT scans. The critical patients who require the MRI service were referred abroad immediately.
“Those who are on the waiting list are patients who require the MRI service but not urgently,” she said.
She said that the hospital would provide the services to a limited number of patients for the first few days because parameters must be set for every case.
“Since it is entirely a new system, for every new case we have to set the parameters. That is why we have an application specialist from the company in India with us. There are hundreds of parameters and each parameter has to be adjusted,” she said.
The application specialist will be in the hospital for a week to train the users-technicians and doctors on how to set the parameters.
Off-hour service to avail MRI service also resumed yesterday.
Since October last year, the hospital was not able to provide the service as the only MRI machine in the country was in the process of up-gradation from 1.5T GE Signa HD MRI to Signa Explorer system.
Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that if the health sector can afford, there was a need for a new MRI machine which would cost about Nu 95 million.
Lyonpo said that the people demand quality care, state-of-the-art technology but the proportion of budget has remained constant in relation to GDP. “It has not even touched four percent of the GDP.”
About 3.6 percent of the GDP is allocated to health.
“The services that we are providing is far beyond the 3.6 percent. We have to manage to provide not just the primary health care, but also secondary and tertiary level health care within the budget,” Lyonpo said.
“If you look at many countries that do not even provide full health services, they allocate at least above 10 percent of their GDP to the health services,” Lyonpo said. “If we really want to enhance quality, we must also think about providing adequate resources.”