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Meet The 43-Year-Old Doctor Who Aims To Provide Health For All In Remote Areas Of Ladakh

43-year-old Dr Jigmet Wangchuk changed the face of the dilapidated Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Chushul near the Line of Actual Control in the Leh region, his aim is to ensure health for all in the remotest areas of Ladakh.

On July 27, 2020, Dr Jigmet Wangchuk, a Medical Officer with over a decade in government service, received his transfer orders from Leh District Hospital to a Primary Health Centre Chushul.

The Primary Health Centre at Chushul was constructed in the early 1990s to cater to the medical needs of the natives of the area and five other villages within a 70km radius. However, back in 2020, it 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 were three to four paramedics posted in each village including Chushul and there was a doctor practising traditional Tibetan medicine, also known as Sowa-Rigpa medicine but until Dr Wangchuk came, there was no doctor for allopathic treatment or to address emergency cases, handle deliveries and provide ante-natal and post-natal care.

Dr Wangchuk decided to change the face of the centre and managed to get a fund of Rs 5 lakh sanctioned. Even though the money was allotted, the challenge was to find masons, laborers, and painters in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the unavailability of the same, Dr Wangchuk decided to start the renovation process on his own with his team.

In three months Dr Wangchuk and his team revamped the Primary Health Centre and got new medical equipment like a refrigerator to store medicines, oxygen concentrators and ventilators.

In the middle of the renovation, COVID -19 cases were also managed within Chushul only. A 30-bed isolation facility was created in a hostel of a government high school. Cases that needed medical treatment like oxygen, medication, and regular monitoring were admitted to a 12-bedded COVID centre which was originally a building of the Wildlife Department.

Around the same time, there was a stand-off between China and India. One of the soldiers was killed in action and Dr Wangchuk conducted a post-mortem despite lacking desired equipment. He also volunteered and assisted the army personnel with medicines and water.

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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