Nima Wangdi

The Covid-19 pandemic has hampered the country in many aspects. However, it has also enabled the government to do better in terms of data management.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said, in the past two years, the way government functions and design the plans have changed. “It is as simple as Checkpost Management System (CPMS) and it is unthinkable.”

Lyonchhen said, before the pandemic, for instance, it would take a few days to get data on how many trucks travelled to Phuentsholing from Thimphu in one of the days. It would come all mixed data on an excel sheet from road safety and transport authority. “To segregate only the trucks would take another few more days.”

Lyonchhen said this was because it had to be done manually in the past since the systems was never set for that.

“Today, if we have to track all the cars that moved out of Thimphu in the past three days, we can get all the data in 10 minutes from the police. We can also trace where the passengers have been dropped along with the driver,” Lyonchhen said. “It might not be 100 percent true but 99.9 percent.”

Lyonchhen said, “CPMS and E-pass will be used from hereon. We will make them more efficient.”

According to Lyonchhen, soon, through the digital Drukyul flagship program, Bhutan will have digital ID system in which all the information will be picked up by the systems. “We won’t have to do anything while QR coding will be there on vehicle registration number plates. We are going there.”

Data management has improved so much that health data on people living with co-morbidities are also easily available. “There are roughly 90,000 people who are diabetic, suffering from hypertension and chronic medical conditions,” he said there are some 306 people receiving dialysis in different centres.

There are 38 people living with donated kidneys and 88 registered with oncology unit taking chemotherapy medication.  He said the data have been there since before but they weren’t used.

“We also have data on how the pandemic affected all types of industries, medium, cottage, small and big industries and by how much,” Lyonchhen said, adding  that the government also now have data on which industry has how many foreign workers.

He said that before the pandemic, there was no data on how many Bhutanese were living abroad. “Since foreign ministry has started collecting information, in about a year, we should be able to know how many Bhutanese are in the US, Australia and India.”

He said, besides a dedicated desk officer in the foreign ministry working on this, Embassies, consulates and missions are already reaching out to the Bhutanese living in other countries.

Druk Holding and Investment (DHI) is also developing Electronic Patient System (EPS) at the Tech Park. “We can analyse so many data on health care once it is fully developed.” Lyonchhen said, today, the health care projection is all based on estimation.

He said even for education ministry, electronic learning management system is being developed. It would help keep track of psychosocial behavior and academic performance of every student. This will also help identify affecting factors when there is a sudden drop in the performance or change in behaviour.

Lyonchhen said that His Majesty the King has also been emphasising on the importance of making all and correct information available for the public at all times.

“We have done so many things in the past two years that would have actually taken many years,” Lyonchhen said.