Education ministry and health ministry will review the diet system in response to the Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) report on poor nutrition food provided in hospitals and schools.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said, “The ministry has issued office order on May 24 to all hospitals and basic health units to review the implementation of patient diet system as per the recommendations of RAA.”

He said that the health facilities are asked to submit an action plan for implementation of patient diet before July 20. Focal persons will be accountable while implementing these recommendations. The health ministry will then compile a report which would be submitted to RAA before August 7.

“The department of medical health will discuss patient diet guidelines in the coming fiscal year,” said Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk.

Some of the recommendations were to evaluate menus with more nutritional content and to provide different types of food for different patients. The ministry should develop procedures for nutritional screening and set up food safety measures.

Education minister Norbu Wangchuk said, “We will examine the report closely. We are waiting for the ministry’s report.”  He added that the ministry has a dedicated division to look into the quality of food provided to the students.

RAA has recommended the education ministry to develop a minimum dietary requirement standard for students. The ministry was also suggested to institute a strong monitoring and inspection mechanism to ensure that schools comply with the standard. According to the report, there is a need to employ an effective mechanism for monitoring nutritional status so that preventive measures can be taken in case of micro-nutrient cases.

Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay said, “The health ministry and the education ministry must do more to provide better food to patients and students.”

He said that while the RAA’s work is to examine and point out inadequacies, it should also consider how schools and hospitals have performed in the last few years.

Rinchen Zangmo