Doctors into pol­i­tics condemn BMHC’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Chen­cho Dema from Pu­nakha

The re­cent no­ti­fi­ca­tion is­sued by the Bhutan Med­i­cal and Health Coun­cil (BMHC) ask­ing pro­fes­sional doctors as­pir­ing to join pol­i­tics to dereg­is­ter from the BMHC has not gone well with doctors who have had al­ready joined pol­i­tics.

There are five doctors as of now who have joined po­lit­i­cal par­ties to con­test in the up­com­ing elec­tions - two in the Druk Nyam­rup Tshogpa (DNT), one each in the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP), the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) and the Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa


Talk­ing to Busi­ness Bhutan, Dr. Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing, a con­sul­tant urol­o­gist and the DNT pres­i­dent said the uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion is un­law­ful.

“One should know their man­date and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. BMHC’s job is to mon­i­tor un­eth­i­cal med­i­cal prac­tices. BMHC should not worry about the elec­tion pe­riod. It is not their man­date. It is the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB),” he said.

“Sus­pend­ing my li­cense, I have not done any­thing un­eth­i­cal. I don’t un­der­stand and I don’t agree with the no­ti­fi­ca­tion ei­ther. Sus­pend­ing my right is a huge of­fence. I am a pro­fes­sional and I know how to abide by the rules. If ECB tells me not to prac­tice then I will not. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion is­sued is all about not trust­ing me. Dur­ing the 90 days of elec­tion pe­riod, I know I will not prac­tice,” he added.

Dr. Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing fur­ther said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion is not clear and does not state about ‘in emer­gency sit­u­a­tion’ where doctors can treat pa­tients.

“With this, I can’t do any­thing to save the life of pa­tients or treat them de­spite be­ing a doc­tor. If they want me to save the lives of pa­tients dur­ing emer­gency, they should is­sue me a per­sonal no­ti­fi­ca­tion,” he added.

Sim­i­larly, Dr. Tandi Dorji, a pe­di­a­tri­cian/health con­sul­tant and DNT’s as­pir­ing can­di­date from Ling­mukha-Toed­wang con­stituency in Pu­nakha said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion is­sued by the BMHC was a hasty one.

He added, “It’s not prop­erly thought out and most im­por­tantly there was no con­sul­ta­tion with the doctors who had joined pol­i­tics. The coun­cil should not in­volve it­self in pol­i­tics and re­strict it­self to its man­date. There are many as­pects to this uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion and long term im­pact on health reg­u­la­tion. Has the coun­cil con­sid­ered events such as emer­gency med­i­cal con­di­tions such as ac­ci­dents - which I have had to attend in the past?”

Dr. Tandin Dorji also ques­tioned why a doc­tor can­not pro­vide med­i­cal check and ad­vice when those who are in pol­i­tics such as lawyers can pro­vide le­gal ad­vice, en­gi­neers and ar­chi­tects help make draw­ing plans, and busi­ness­men help with busi­ness plans and loans.

He added that nowhere in the act of the BMHC there is a pro­vi­sion that one can­not prac­tice medicine just be­cause you are in pol­i­tics.

“BMHC can­not just dereg­is­ter us with­out any valid rea­son and with­out any breach of BMHC reg­u­la­tion. If there is an ac­ci­dent and the vic­tim is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, should we just ig­nore it just be­cause we have tem­po­rar­ily de-reg­is­tered our­selves from BMCC?” he asked.

Doc­tor Lobzang Dorji, the PDP’s can­di­date for Jo­mot­shangkha-Martshala con­situency in Sam­drup Jongkhar who was a med­i­cal doc­tor for 12 years with the gov­ern­ment be­fore re­sign­ing to join pol­i­tics, said it is like tak­ing their ba­sic right away.

“I spoke about the is­sue with the health min­is­ter and said that the no­ti­fi­ca­tion was not fair and it is not right on BMHC’s part. It is like tak­ing our ba­sic right away. I re­cently re­newed my li­cense,” he added.

Mean­while, Dr. Sam­drup, the DPT’s can­di­date for Kan­glungUd­zorung-Samkar con­stituency in Trashigang with more than 24 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the med­i­cal field, said BMHC should have at least waited for the elec­tion re­sults.

“It’s too early for the no­ti­fi­ca­tion to be an­nounced. We should be given the right to prac­tice,” he added.

Talk­ing to Busi­ness Bhutan, BMHC’s Reg­is­trar Sonam Dorji said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion was is­sued based on the pro­vi­sions of the ECB.

“Quite a num­ber of doctors had re­signed to join pol­i­tics and also af­ter re­ceiv­ing com­plains that doctors were treat­ing peo­ple door to door, then BMHC wrote to the ECB if it was fair for the doctors to treat peo­ple and if there are any pro­vi­sions,” he added.

Sonam Dorji, how­ever, said, “In case of emer­gency, doctors can treat pa­tients, es­pe­cially in a life sav­ing sit­u­a­tion. It is the no­bil­ity of the pro­fes­sion.”

He added if the no­ti­fi­ca­tion was is­sued af­ter con­sult­ing with the doctors who joined pol­i­tics, there was no need of the no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“It is fair and square, they can­not cap­i­tal­ize on their pro­fes­sion. It’s also not to un­der­mine them. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion is flex­i­ble. If they want to re­turn back to their pro­fes­sion then they can go to the ECB af­ter they have dereg­is­tered them­selves from the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, get a let­ter from the ECB and re­voke the sus­pen­sion. It is not a life-long ban,” Sonam Dorji added.

Ac­cord­ing to the no­ti­fi­ca­tion to be read in line with clause 11.34 of Po­lit­i­cal Party Rules of the King­dom of Bhutan, 2015, all the med­i­cal and health pro­fes­sion­als reg­is­tered with BMHC as­pir­ing to con­test for elec­tion that your regis­tra­tion shall be sus­pended till the end of the elec­tion pe­riod and are not al­lowed for any pro­fes­sional prac­tice. To prac­tice, med­i­cal and health pro­fes­sion­als, who have con­tested in the elec­tion, should get clear­ance from the ECB to re­voke their sus­pen­sion.

Mean­while, the clause 11.34 of Po­lit­i­cal Party Rules of the King­dom of Bhutan states a po­lit­i­cal party, can­di­date, any in­di­vid­ual or or­ga­ni­za­tion dur­ing an elec­tion pe­riod shall not serve meals, en­ter­tain or make do­na­tions or carry out ac­tiv­ity of any kind which may ben­e­fit or dam­age the elec­toral prospects of any party or can­di­date or may be con­strued as co­er­cion or in­duce­ment or a pro­hib­ited elec­toral prac­tice un­der the laws.

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