Nima Wangdi

Those applying for an Australian visa will not have to travel to Thimphu for their health tests from next week.

By the end of this month, the Ministry of Health will also offer the service at Eastern Regional Referral Hospital in Mongar, and Central Regional Referral Hospital in Gelephu will launch online medical services for visas abroad.

This is expected to reduce the burden on the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu and enable it to reduce the huge backlog of cases requesting electronic medical tests.

Anyone planning to travel to Australia must have a medical certificate for the visa application and only doctors approved by the Australian government can carry out the medical examination. Only a team from JDWNRH was recognized to do so earlier.

JDWNRH was burdened with huge backlogs with many people vying to travel overseas. To ensure that people get medical services online without having to wait long or travel far, the Ministry of Health months ago wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MoFAET) to enable Mongar and Gelephu hospitals to start service.

MoFAET wrote to the Australian government for approval and Australian Home Affairs approved it on January 17.

Health ministry officials had earlier said that the launch of online medical services at two more regional hospitals would help reduce the number of patients at JDWNRH. “There have also been instances where people traveled to Thimphu from afar and failed to get appointments in time due to many people rushing for service.”

A January 24 letter from the Acting Health Secretary to the two regional referral hospitals said that training of trainers will soon be organized at JDWNRH who in turn will train people in their own hospitals.

The letter also asked the two hospitals to release their teams which include a medical superintendent, radiologist, physician, lab technician, X-ray technician, optometrist and receptionist.

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