Health: With non-communicable diseases (NCD) causing more deaths every year, the health sector in Trashigang organised an awareness campaign in Methidrang town yesterday.

The move comes after a resolution to improve primary health care was passed during the recent biennial conference of health workers at Paro.

More than 50 percent of deaths across the nation were attributed to NCDs last year. In 2014, 50,064 people suffered from various NCDs like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart and alcohol liver diseases.

In 2013 and 2014, Bhutan recorded a 26 percent increase in NCDs. Hypertension, diabetes, and liver diseases take up the top slots in the list.

Following a national survey last year, it was found that cases of hypertension and diabetes stand at 5 percent and 6.4 percent respectively in the country.

Though obesity is not a disease, it is a risk factor for NCDs like hypertension and diabetes. Some 40 percent of adult women and 27 percent of men in Bhutan are obese or overweight.

Apart from advocating to the public, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Trashigang general hospital, Palden Dorji, said that general health checkups were also carried out for over 350 people.

“We also checked the blood pressures of the volunteers and calculated their Body Mass Index (BMI),” he said. “BMI of a person should not be lower than 18.5 or higher than 24.5.”

Patient screening was also an integral part of the campaign where the screened ones were asked to visit the hospital for further treatment.

The CMO added that a proper diet system plays a pertinent role in preventing NCDs. Records show that 67 percent of the total population do not consume sufficient fruits and vegetables.

“It is recommended that a person should take five servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” he said. “In a week, we would be taking up such campaigns every Tuesday and Friday to advise people on healthy diet,” he said.

Moreover, Bhutanese consume 9gms of salt in a day, which is almost double the recommended daily intake of 5gms. Increased intake of salt is a major factor for hypertension.

Further, reports have also confirmed that 36 percent of Bhutanese have raised blood pressure while one out of three hypertensive cases is not treated for high blood pressure.

As expected, the alcohol consumption rate is very high with 50 percent of men and 33 percent of women drinking. While 11 percent of men smoke, only three percent of women do. However, one in five people is exposed to passive smoking at home.

Meanwhile, the hospital would be taking the awareness program to nine other areas falling within the Trashigang municipality zone. The next campaign will take place at the new multi sports hall at the edge of the NHDC housing colony.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang