Dr Jigmet Wangchuk, a Medical Officer with over 10 years of experience in government service, received his transfer orders in July 2020. That’s when he was sent to Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Chushul from Leh District Hospital.
Dr Wangchuk braved the challenges
With a population of around 1,300 people and nearly five km away from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Chushul is directly impacted when tensions brew at the border. Even the 2G connection internet service gets disrupted and natives have to resort to the BSNL VSAT service set-up at the Panchayat Ghar (house).
Moreover, back in 2020, PHC was out of order. The plaster was peeling off from the walls, x-ray machine was dysfunctional, poor state of wards and out-patient departments (OPDs) and the lack of medical equipment was an eyesore. There was no doctor for allopathic treatment or to address emergency cases, handle deliveries and provide ante-natal and post-natal care.
Paramedics provided treatment to the best of their capabilities and in case of further medical assistance, patients were referred to a district hospital located at a distance of 200 km.
Managed to get funds, made PHC fully operational
But, the challenges did not deter Dr Wangchuk’s spirit from providing for society. Dr Wangchuk used the bare minimum facilities to provide treatment and decided to avail this opportunity for the betterment of Chushul and change the face of the PHC.
He managed to get a fund of Rs 5 lakh sanctioned, but finding masons and labourers during the Covid pandemic became another challenge. Dr Wangchuk then decided to renovate the medical centre on his own.
According to him, the government provided Rs 5 lakh in two instalments. From the first instalment, Rs. 50,000 were spent on renovating the laboratory to conduct basic tests. The team bought a refrigerator to store drugs and reagents for processing and testing samples. The remaining two lakhs were spent on revamping.
The second instalment of the same amount was availed to acquire medical equipment, including eight oxygen concentrators, ventilators and a defibrillator – a device used to give a high electric shock to someone who suffers cardiac arrest.
He led the district during Covid
Then, during the Covid peak, a 30-bed isolation facility was created in a hostel of a government high school. Cases needing medical treatment like oxygen, medication, and regular monitoring were admitted to a 12-bedded COVID centre, originally a building of the Wildlife Department. Dr Wangchuk took the lead even then.
In May 2021, Dr Wangchuk was transferred to Tangtse as Block Medical Officer of Durbuk Block. While signing off, the healthcare worker said that he aims to ensure health for all by ‘providing best possible health care services to the people of the remotest region of Ladakh.’
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