The formulation of health sector’s 12th Plan was based on the priority to enhance healthy ageing and care in the society.

According to the progress report of health ministry and allied agencies 2013 – 2017, this reflects the contribution of free health services on the health of the people.

“As more and more Bhutanese become aware of living a healthy lifestyle, expansion of health services is necessary for these people who requires a different level of care,” the report states.

To enhance healthy and caring society, improving access to quality healthcare services that is inclusive, responsive, and equitable is one of the key priorities of the sector’s 12th Plan.

This will be done with the construction of key health infrastructure’s like National Cancer Hospital, Sarpang and Gidakom hospital, Package II of Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Mother and Child Hospital, Deothang hospital (spillover of 11th Plan) four satellite clinics, and Dechencholing BHU I.

During the 12th Plan, EmONC (Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care) and trauma centres, and blood banks would be established or consolidated.

Access and delivery of diagnostic services will also be improved by establishing CT scan in the regional hospitals and endoscopy facilities in the major hospitals, according to the report. Microbiology laboratories will be expanded in Paro, Samtse, Punakha, Trashigang, Samdrupjongkhar, and Trongsa.

Access to quality healthcare services will also be improved by ensuring 95 percent of essential medicines are available at all health facilities at any point of time and ensuring 90 percent each of medical equipment are functional, and standard consumables are available in all facilities at any point of time.

During the 12th Plan, indigenous knowledge and practice of traditional medicine would be documented and promoted and conduct a vulnerability assessment of health facilities (non-structural and functional)

The second key priority is improvement in the prevention, promotion and rehabilitation services that will be done by prevention and control of diseases of public health concern through collaboration and coordination with stakeholders, and strengthening coordination and partnership at all level (multi-sectoral) to address priority public health and social issues, among others.

The report states that while other resources are necessary, health workers are the critical for the sector. “The achievements in health are attributable to the commendable contributions of the past and present health workers across the country.”

The investment for human resource development for health must be seen as means to sustain improvements in health services given the host of emerging and re-emerging diseases, it states.

Strengthening efficiency, effectiveness in the delivery of health services and governance is the other key priority in the health sector’s 12th Plan.

According to the report, the health sector will train and equitably deploy appropriate number and type of health workers as per the service standards, develop and expand ICT enabled healthcare solutions such as telemedicine, and develop and implement national e-health strategy.

Legal and regulatory framework for health sector will be strengthened; conduct studies, review policies and strategies to facilitate informed decision making; and strengthen health system capacity to facilitate the conduct of research in priority areas.

The sector’s 11th Plan was aligned with the three broad strategic objectives to improve access to quality and equitable health services; strengthen preventive, promotive, rehabilitative and palliative health services; and promote efficiency and effectiveness in financing and delivery of health services.

Dechen Tshomo