With the inauguration on July 18, the country’s first Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) nursing institute, Apollo Bhutan Institute of Nursing (ABIN) opened at Chamjeykha in Kabisa, Thimphu.

The institute, affiliated to Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences and regulated by the Bhutan Medical and Health Council, will start with its first programme, a three-year diploma in general nursing and midwifery next month.

Dean of the institute, Pema Dolma, during the inauguration said that their mission is to establish ABIN as a centre of excellence for nursing education at the international level through quality approach, professional development and research.

“We have experienced faculty members, numerous labs and a library which are at par with international standards and connected with the outside world through Internet and technology,” she said.

For the first semester that has five modules, the institute currently has three permanent faculty members and two visiting faculty from KGUMBS and Faculty of Nursing and Public Health.

Pema Dolma said the faculty would be recruited based on the requirement of the semesters.

“The students that graduate from ABIN will develop a lifelong passion for learning, compassion for others and the ability to translate academic study into effective leadership actions,” she said.  “We are filled with hope about our future but I assure you that we are not complacent.”

The health ministry has designated Wangdue and Paro hospitals as teaching hospital for the trainees of ABIN.

Pema Dolma said that before the students practice at the hospitals, it would be made sure that they are competent enough to carry out the procedures in the hospitals.

Health minister Dechen Wangmo, during the inauguration, said she is happy to be part of this landmark collaboration between Apollo and Bhutan for building the capacity of the nation.

Lyonpo said human resources are the most critical component of the six building blocks of a good health system.

As a developing health system, Lyonpo said Bhutan has done fairly well in terms of indicators like water and sanitation, immunisation, universal health coverage, providing primary health system, and access to essential medicines at the Basic Health Unit level, among others.

“The component where we are not doing so well is the health workforce. If we look at our nurses to bed ratio, it is 1:1 at the moment, if you look at our doctors and specialist ratio it is averaging around four per 10,000 population so I think that is an area that needs a lot of support, a lot of government effort in enhancing the health workforce,” Lyonpo said.

The establishment of the institute, she said, is timely and an appropriate intervention in terms of building competence and capacity of the health workers in the country.

ABIN’s chief executive officer, Khendum Dorji said the institute, a joint venture FDI project with Apollo India and Chhundu Travels guarantees 100 percent employment in Apollo hospitals in India and worldwide.

“The reason we look for the employment guarantee is that a lot of students pay a lot of money to go to colleges in Bhutan and India with no job guarantee,” she said. “Since unemployment is such an issue we wanted to enter into an arrangement whereby our students are automatically hired.”

Pema Dolma said the students also have the option to work within the country.

For a day-scholar student, it would cost Nu 75,000 per student for a semester. With accommodation and self-catering, it would cost a student Nu 85,000 per semester. The fees include tuition, clinical and lab fees.

Dechen Tshomo