Baby could have survived if airlifted – PM

Headline National News

Speaking at the Press Meet yesterday on the death of the six-week-old baby girl who died after waiting for ambulance on August 26 at the Lajab Basic Health Unit (BHU II) in Dagana, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering said the baby could have survived if she had been airlifted.

He said, “I personally feel that airlifting was the only surest way of saving the baby’s life. With my medical experience, the ambulance wouldn’t have saved the baby. Airlifting should be very easy and doable. After receiving the call for airlifting the chopper should be able to fly and evacuate. Too many people who do not qualify for airlifting make calls.”

Explaining further, the PM said that the procedure is that the affected family must go to a health service; health service will have to call 112, health help center then they will direct questions to the specialist concerned. “Health care provider in the district and health care provider specialist from one of the hospitals maybe in Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) but not exclusively in JDWNRH will have to talk and then immediately qualify for the airlifting services, if 112 cannot decide,” PM said.

PM said that if the procedures are not followed lots of unnecessaryairlifting will be made.

Pointing out what went wrong in communication, PM said the communication between the local health care provider, 112 and health specialist advice was not clear.

“There is no one strict rule that one will get airlifted. It depends on the communication between health care providers in the district and receiving specialist. Many times 112 decides, say like accidents, stabbing.”

Lyonchhen also said that no explanation will be acceptable for ambulance having no fuel. “It is mismanagement”.

Elaborating the incident, PM mentioned that the baby died before the ambulance from Tsirang to BHU arrived.

It is a two and half hour journey from Drukjeygang to reach BHU II and to reach Tsirang hospital it will take another five hours from Lajab BHU II.  In Tsirang hospital though there are doctors there is no live saving equipment like ventilator shared PM.

“The equipment are only at JDWNR hospital, Monggar and Gelephu Referral hospitals. The baby actually needed ventilation. It was almost impossible for baby to reach Thimphu where life saving measures are in place. It would have been difficult in any way to save the baby’s life. The baby was having severe pneumonia. We are not blaming anyone here everyone has done their duty,” PM said.

The tragic incident about the baby’s death was revealed on Facebook by the father of the baby alleging that since he hails from a remote gewog and his village is far from the Dzongkhag, an ambulance could not reach on time with full fuel tank. 

In an earlier interview with Business Bhutan, Rinchen Dhendup the Health Assistant (HA) who treated the baby girl in the Lajab BHU-II said by the time the baby was brought by her parents to the BHU, the baby was in critical condition. “The lips and the face of the baby had turned bluish. The baby looked lethargic and was suffering from diarrhea too. The baby was not feeding and was brought unconscious. The baby was critically serious. Immediately we started treating the baby,” he had said.

By the time the ambulance reached Kompa which is about 23km away from the Lajab BHU II, the baby was pronounced dead.

As a last option, the baby was given chest compression but it was not successful. By then the respiration and heartbeat of the baby had stopped, HA said.

“We could not rule out the cause of the death or diagnose the baby’s disease. I feel that the child was brought late and I think if had brought early we would have able been able to save her,” HA Rinchen Dendup said.  

The father of the deceased is from Lajab Gewog, one of the remotest gewogs in Dagana. The baby girl was admitted between 11 to 11:30 am on August 26 and passed away at around 6 pm in the evening.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu

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