Highlighting the major achievements made by the health sector in the current Plan, health minister Tandin Wangchuk said that about 207 critically ill patients have been airlifted to Thimphu as of this month. “This is a big achievement in realising our maximum health care coverage.”

The Annual Performance Agreement that was signed between Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk yesterday stated that to strengthen diagnostic, curative and palliative healthcare services in the country, the ministry targets to have at least three doctors in all dzongkhags while increasing the nurse to bed ratio to 1:6 from 1:7.

The health sector committed to have at least one female health worker in all 184 Basic Health Unit (BHU) grade II by January next year.

The agreement also states that the sector will ensure 100 percent availability of essential drugs and consumables in health facilities with 95 percent of essential medicines available at any point of time.

Lyonpo said that since 2014, all essential drugs and most vaccines are provided by proceeds of Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF). “The government has decided to double the current BHTF capital to Nu 3 billion by 2018.” This year the government is providing Nu 500 million to support the BHTF, Lyonpo added.

The sector targets to promote rational use of medicines by reducing wastage of medical supplies to less than five percent and ensure that 90 percent of medical equipment are functional in all health centres at all times.

The sector should strengthen communicable diseases prevention and control in all dzongkhags this fiscal year to improve preventive, promotive and rehabilitative healthcare services. “About 80 percent of rural households should have access to improved sanitation while 90 percent rural households should have functional water supply coverage,” the agreement stated.

It targets to increase institutional delivery to 87 percent from 73 today. To enhance national response on non-communicable lifestyle related diseases, the sector targets to have five-non-communicable disease (NCD) or diabetes clinic established in 24 hospitals and 24 BHU grade I. It also aims to have three referral hospitals providing adolescent and youth friendly health services by opening clinics that are responsive to youth problems.

With the signing of the agreement, Lyonpo said the health sector also commits to consolidate and expand health infrastructure, to strengthen traditional medicinal services and to promote good governance and financially sustainable healthcare.

Health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said the achievement of the APA targets requires sincere implementation of the plans and programmes.

“The mid-year and annual review of the performance always gives us a great sense of achievement and it also allows us to identify areas that require improvement,” the secretary said.

The Prime Minister applauded the health sector ‘s workforce for the achievements and acknowledged their hard work.

“APA are instituted to make all of us accountable to the plans and programmes,” Lyonpo said.

Dechen Tshomo