Starting today, a mass awareness and screening campaign for people aged 60 years and above will be held at various places in Thimphu thromde.

It is organised by the Elderly Care programme with the health ministry and community health department with the national referral hospital.Senior programme officer with the programme, Tashi Phuntsho, said the screening aims early detection and control of lifestyle-related diseases among the elderly.

It is also to initiate prompt care and to render necessary management and treatment based on findings during the screening.

He said the elderly will be screened based on 13 health conditions based on the acronym 5Ds and IHAVEFUN, which stands for isolation, hypertension, alcoholism, visual problem, ear problem, fall risk, urinary incontinence, and nutritional problems. The 5D stands for disability, diabetes, dementia, depression, and dental problems.

“These health problems are prevalent among the elderly people,” he said. “If the health problems are detected early then it can be treated before the condition becomes serious.”

The screening camps will be at the clock tower square today and tomorrow. On May 9 and 10, the camp will be organised at the National Memorial Choeten, at the Zangtopelri near Centenary Farmers Market on May 11 and 12 and at Tshendenshing parking at Changzamtok on May 13 and 14. The camp will also be held at Bank of Bhutan Parking in Babesa on May 15 and 16.

He said this is the first time the programme is organized in Thimphu thromde area and that it will be held annually.

Thimphu dzongkhag health officer (DHO) has already conducted the programme in areas that fall under the dzongkhag administration, he added.

A pilot project was started in Khaling in 2010 with technical assistance from Kyoto University in Japan.

He said the DHOs and health assistants were trained with assistance from Kyoto University in a phased manner, who further trained their staff in the dzongkhags. In a year, health officials of five dzongkhags were trained.

The project was then rolled out to other dzongkhags.

He said 13 dzongkhags – Bumthang, Trongsa, Trashigang, Wangdue, Zhemgang, Lhuentse, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Trashiyangtse, Tsirang, Haa and Sarpang have conducted the same programme to date.

Based on the reports from the 13 dzongkhags, a majority of elderly people aged 60 years and above suffered from hypertension or high blood pressure and visual problems.

“The rest of the dzongkhags may have finished conducting the programme but we are yet to get a report,” he said. DHOs organise the programme in the dzongkhags.

Dechen Tshomo