National Council (NC) yesterday continued deliberation on the follow-up reports on the resolutions of its 18th session last year.

Eminent Member Kesang Chuki Dorjee presented a follow-up report on teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse against children and sexual harassment. The house of review during the 18th session had recommended the government to step up nationwide advocacy efforts in tandem with stakeholder agencies, particularly civil society organisations, to create awareness.

In response to NC’s recommendations, the Ministry of Health said that in line with the National Adolescent Health Strategic Plan (2013-2018), the Department of Public Health is responsible for strengthening delivery of education and life skills training among out-of-school adolescents and youths that constitute the most vulnerable group.

The eminent member read out the ministry’s response to the house, which stated that it sensitised drayang workers on sexual and reproductive health, teenage pregnancy, types of contraceptive drugs and risks related to abortions in 2016.

The Ministry of Health accords a high priority for adolescent health issues and has initiated plans to introduce adolescent friendly health services in major hospitals.

“We will expand such services and continue to collaborate with the relevant agencies and strengthen advocacy and awareness programmes in the country,” the ministry wrote. The ministry will also continue to monitor import of contraceptives pills and create awareness on the ill effects of emergency contraceptive pills.

“We have not done any assessment on the prevalence of use of emergency pills yet. A study is important to generate adequate information on the use of this service from health centres and pharmacy shops,” it wrote.

According to the ministry, Bhutan imported a total of 95,265 tablets of emergency contraceptive pills and 132,254 cycles of oral contraceptive pills during the financial year 2015-16.

The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) had also sent a written response to NC. NCWC stated that it has been working with partners in the government and non-government sectors to both prevent and respond to protection issues faced by children through implementation of the Child Care and Protection Act of Bhutan 2011.

Similarly, efforts to implement Domestic Violence Prevention Act of Bhutan 2013 are underway.

NCWC has been working with relevant partners to establish a child protection system through mainstreaming of child protection issues into sector policies and plans. One of the major achievements has been the transition from sector’s activities from the NCWC work plans into respective sector plans and the appointment of child protection focal points.

MB Subba