The health ministry, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMS), and Japan’s Kyoto University Hospital renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop academic collaboration in research activities, exchange in education and training programmes related to health in Thimphu on October 9.

The MoU was first signed between the parties in October 2013.

The president of the KGUMS, Dr Kinzang P Tshering, said this was one of the first MoUs the new university signed. “It has also been one of the most effective MoUs and collaborations that we signed.”

This year, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu signed the MoU and became the fourth partner.

With the collaboration some 32 doctors and nurses from Kyoto University Hospital worked at KGUMS. “We had our orthopaedic surgeon trained in spinal surgery at the university.”

Director of Kyoto University Hospital, Prof. Nobuya Inagaki, said the agreement is expected to facilitate and dispatch medical care staff from Kyoto University Hospital to train young doctors in Bhutan. “They can also have the valuable experience of working in a Bhutanese hospital and learning about the country and its unique concept of Gross National Happiness.”

The university has dispatched seven teams comprising of about 70 medical staff, including doctors, nurses, and clinicians to Bhutan over the past three years.

“I am humbled and pleased to hear that our medical service in Bhutan has been helpful in aiding Bhutanese doctors gain new skills and knowledge in various fields,” Prof. Nobuya Inagaki said. “It is my sincere hope that our continued collaboration will contribute to the establishment of the first medical school in Bhutan. We look forward to many years of fruitful partnership with you.”

JDWNRH’s president, Lhab Dorji, said as a teaching hospital for the KGUMS, JDWNRH has obligations that must be fulfilled. “As a teaching hospital, we have our challenges which we are trying to overcome with collaboration with other universities, agencies, and institutions.”

The teachers have to be properly trained so that they can give quality teaching, good skills and knowledge to the medical students in the country, Lhab Dorji added.

“Our doctors are not fully-trained teachers because professionally they are doctors. So such collaboration will enhance their teaching skills,” he said. “I hope that entering into this collaboration will not only improve the quality of the services we provide, but also improve in the field of medical education.”

Lhab Dorji said it’s the hospital’s obligation to see if the only university of medical sciences in the country becomes at least at par with those in the South-East Asia regions if not better. “In order to reach there, we need friends like Kyoto University Hospital.”

Dr Kinzang P Tshering said he is hopeful that the collaboration will gain new momentum, cover broader fields and achieve higher goals.

Dechen Tshomo