Younten Tshedup

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect Bhutan, however,  it has not affected the essential health care services in the country. 

Even during the two nationwide lockdowns, the public had continued access to essential medical services which remained uninterrupted across the country. 

This according to Health Secretary Dr Pandup Tshering was because of proper and strategic planning. 

He said that even before the first case of Covid-19 appeared in Bhutan, the ministry was prepared in terms of its strategies and plans. “The plan was not only to respond to the pandemic but also to keep other essential services running.” 

To strengthen the Covid-19 response and improve other essential medical services, the health ministry and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a record of discussion (RoD) on May 10. 

The signing of the RoD for the project titled ‘strengthening of the Covid-19 test and health service delivery’ will facilitate an improved access to equitable, quality, and people-centric health services according to health officials.         

The project would help improve hemodialysis system in the country including the enhancement of the research capacity of the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC).  

Chief Representative of JICA Bhutan Office, Kozo Watanabe, said that despite the enormous pressure from the pandemic, the health ministry has managed to provide all other essential medical services uninterruptedly to its citizens. 

“This is a difficult time but despite all its challenges of human resource, budget, and technology, the health ministry has kept the country and its citizens safe from the pandemic. This is a big achievement and I would live to convey our appreciation to the ministry.” 

He said that the ministry’s decision to engage young and healthy health professionals for Covid-19 response and reserving the elderlies for other health services was a well thought out strategy. 

“Being in Bhutan, we feel very safe. I have also received the free Covid-19 vaccination. Along with the Bhutanese, we are also equally protected and taken care of by the government here,” he said, adding that as a gesture of appreciation, the new project was being initiated to support Bhutan’s health system and in the Covid-19 response. 

“It is our hope that this project will help improve the health care services available to the people as well as make the work of health service providers easier, ” he said. 

Dr Pandup Tshering said that the CT scan and MRI machines including the many ambulances JICA has donated over the years has strengthened the quality of health care in the country.