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Working from outside Thimphu

The scarcity of health professionals has become so acute that an ultimatum has to be issued to ensure that they leave to the place they are transferred to.

It is not the best way to send or leave to a new workplace. Not especially if your work is to treat the sick and give them care.

It is in our good tradition to see off friends and colleagues to their new workplace with good wishes. That motivates them to focus on their work and work harder. But this is changing and changing fast.

Making people work from places outside the capital city and a few urban centres is a problem. It is a problem especially in the civil service and with many professions to the extent that serving from outside Thimphu is seen as a punishment.

In all fairness, a lot of opportunities are missed when working in a distance place, away from home and loved ones. Access to amenities like banking services, hospitals, and day care centres or latest fashion in the shopping malls are lost. Some of the lost opportunities cannot be compensated with salary or allowances.

There are systems of allowances to encourage people to work from outside Thimphu. Some organisations even give preference to those in the dzongkhags, for opportunities like trainings and study tours. Yet, moving people out of Thimphu to places where they are really needed remains a challenge. This is not helped by the so –called connections. When the system starts to appear unfair, the first question is “what about him or her?”

As citizens who came through the free education system, free higher studies, trainings and receiving the honour to serve as a civil servant, it is ironic that transferring people is a problem. The repercussions are felt by children in crowded classrooms without enough teachers, patients visiting hospitals without doctors, for instance.

Those who have worked from remote gewogs or dzongkhags take pride for their service. This is because they can make a difference. Thimphu or Paro is not Bhutan. The real Bhutan is outside the urbanised areas. It should be a privilege for civil servants to have served from the dzongkhags where they are needed the most.

It is different and quite straightforward in the private sector or the public corporations. You move or move on to look for another job.

However, there are exceptions. Like some of the specialists argue, there is no point having a specialist in a district hospital without equipment. His or her skill will be wasted if they cannot practice what they know. The problem of internal referral will not be solved.

The shortage of specialist is about 88. Hiring of specialist from other countries is a temporary measure. The health ministry’s proposal of delinking three referral hospitals seems to be the way out, at least for now.

Letting specialists from Thimphu to practice in regional referral hospitals, if equipped with facilities, could solve the issue of transfer and inconvenience caused to patients.

If regional hospitals are well equipped, even specialists shouldn’t miss the opportunity to serve from the dzongkhags.

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