… 25 students to begin the course from January 2024

Jigmi Wangdi

Coinciding with the 12th Royal wedding anniversary, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) launched the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme yesterday at Semtokha Dzong.

The decision to establish an MBBS programme in the country is in response to the growing demand for physicians, a need further underscored by lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

KGUMSB’s President, Dr Kinzang P Tshering said that the long-term benefits from the MBBS programme will far outweigh the short-term sacrifices. “We are laying the foundation for self-sufficiency in health human resources and health security which is becoming increasingly costly.”

The programme will begin with 25 students from January next year. The orientation and pre-medical classes start from November until December of this year.

One of the students from the first batch of the programme, Karma Choden Dorji, said that she and her cohorts will dedicate themselves to regular studies and training to become committed, compassionate and ethical medical professionals.

“We will work tirelessly to make sure we make the most of it. I express my heartfelt gratitude to His Majesty The King and the government,” Karma Choden said.

Traditionally, Bhutan has relied on neighbouring countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for the training of medical doctors, resulting in approximately 15-20 new graduate doctors returning to Bhutan each year. At that rate, Bhutan is unable to meet its requirements for medical graduates and post-graduates.

The establishment of an MBBS programme represents a significant step towards achieving self-reliance in producing basic-level general-duty medical officers. It also provides the opportunity to develop a training programme tailored to the latest educational principles and Bhutan’s specific health needs.

The university has also been steadfast in providing medical education, offering Postgraduate Medical Degree programs, Nursing, allied health sciences, traditional medicine (diploma, degree, and master’s programmes), and an internship programme in various medical and healthcare fields.

KGUMSB also plans to enrol regional and international students to study medicine, which could take the form of both short-term exchange programmes and full-time enrolment, offering economic prosperity and establishing Bhutan as a quality medical education platform in the region.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, ministers, the Gyalpoi Zimpon, the Opposition Leader, foreign dignitaries, and government officials attended the event.