The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Off-hour clinic: A blow to GNH

Off-hour clinic: A blow to GNH
26 June 2010
Individual happiness that totals up to gross cumu­lative happiness of the nation rests upon how healthy every single citizen is. In other words, health is the nucleus of GNH. The dynamic con­cept of GNH would not have evolved so far if its essence did emphasize money as the prime source of happiness and ignored other pertinent fac­tors like health, education, cul­ture, environment and many more. The concept appealed to the global community as it quintessentially addresses the theory of national happiness based on many other indica­tors besides financial wellbe­ing.

However, paradoxically, when the residents of Thim­phu will soon have to buy their own health if the off-hour clinic trial turns out success­ful, it clearly defeats the very purpose of GNH. Therefore, firstly as humble subjects of Their Majesties the Kings, who bestowed upon us GNH as the core tool of national develop­ment, and secondly, reinvigo­rated by our constitutional rights as legitimate voters, we must honestly defy the gov­ernment’s health reform.

When Dorji’s wife got admitted to Thimphu national referral hospital after eleven months of pregnancy, he had no hope than to witness his wife’s death. Doctors detected that their unborn baby had died a month ago. To his astonishment, however, a doctor with her surgical team performed miracle on his wife, and she survived. Since then, the couple worship all doctors as enlightened beings.

Likewise, many hundreds and thousands of others look up to our doctors with utmost trust and respect. I also agree with them and revere doc­tors as the missionaries of God. With my reverence so high, I strongly agree that our doctors ought to be rewarded with attractive salaries, perks and other incentives, much higher than any other profes­sionals. In tune with this, we are also well aware of the government’s huge budget for healthcare.

Investing in public health doesn’t go in vain as it has positive impact on socio-economic stimulation of a nation as largely proven by many advanced research­ers. For instance, a healthy person can work more hours efficiently than a sick person thus contributing better to the country’s economy.

Conversely, I don’t see Nu 300 off-hour clinic as the right way to compensate doctors or improve the healthcare system in Bhutan. In-service employ­ees – be they civil servants, corporate workers or private individuals – would not mind raising monthly healthcare contribution considerably if need be. After all, everyone knows ‘health is the ultimate wealth’.

When doctors can heal us from ailments, we must pay them off with unprecedented rewards both morally and financially. Being Buddhists, I suppose we all commit to this ethic voluntarily. But come to think of this off-hour clinic initiative. It may start as ‘off-hour’ first and once it becomes ‘on-hour,’ I visualize absolute healthcare disruption in years to come.

As time passes by, doctors in other areas such as Paro, Wangdue, Phuntsholing, and Gelephu would demand the same off-hour job. Eventu­ally, our doctors’ conduct and professionalism are at a stake. And the healthcare that sup­ports the most fundamental clause of Human Rights, ‘the right of living’, will no doubt end up completely biased and unjust.

A glimpse of American healthcare system: The US is the world’s richest economy but its happiness index falls disproportionately below the poor country like ours. How is this possible? One crucial reason is simply because we have fair and proportionate healthcare distribution. Rich or poor shall be couponed to line up to receive their medical treatments. In reverse, in the US, if someone is not insured with an insurance company, he or she is doomed to suffer.

US President Barrack Obama is admired because he promised a proper healthcare reform for the ordinary Amer­icans. Currently, his reform has created hope for millions who have been deprived of affordable healthcare facilities for the past several decades. Michael Moore, a famous Hollywood docu-film maker, pre-conceptualized Obama’s healthcare mantra and filmed a documentary titled Sicko. This factual reality film scruti­nizes how badly the American healthcare system has gone amid unprecedented econom­ic growth over the years.

Considered a failed state, neighbour Mexico performs many times better than the US in terms of public healthcare. Drug priced at least $100 in the US is provided virtually free of cost in Mexico. When researchers studied the his­torical past of the American healthcare system, they dug out the fact that the American healthcare deteriorated re­sulting from minute changes to full blown capitalization over the years. Thereby, one of the most cited authors of the world, Noam Chomsky, also foresaw tangible outcome from Obama’s reform and advocated the change.

Similarly, if Bhutan govern­ment allows Nu 300 off-hour clinic now, soon it will grow inconsistently higher than one’s own speculation. From this reform, who benefits the most? I guess some hand­ful of Bhutanese elites and those who may run insurance companies. Who knows, in the near future, some liberal governments may replace DPT and completely commer­cialize the healthcare system, thus entirely uprooting the core values of GNH, once and for all.

Respected senior citizens, intellectuals, men and women must, therefore, consider my argument and pre-empt this change before it is late. Let us together safeguard the dynamic countenance of GNH against the blows of fabricated ideas and transformation

By Kinley Wangchuk

Bhutan Observer

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