Stroke is a serious medical condition that affects people all over the world. In recent years, Bhutan has been seeing a rise in the number of stroke cases, which is a serious cause for concern. Every day, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu receives at least one emergency stroke patient. This is a clear indication that urgent measures need to be taken to address this rising epidemic.

The lack of data is one of the major challenges that we face in addressing the stroke crisis in Bhutan. Without accurate data, it is difficult to formulate policies and implement effective measures that can prevent and treat stroke. Therefore, it is essential to establish a national stroke register that can capture information on stroke cases in the country. This register can be used to identify trends and develop strategies for prevention and treatment.

In addition to establishing a national stroke register, there is a need for public education campaigns that raise awareness about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke. This will empower people to recognise the symptoms of stroke and seek urgent medical attention. Education campaigns can also cover lifestyle modifications, such as healthy eating and physical exercise, to reduce the risk of stroke.

Another critical step to addressing the stroke crisis is to invest in stroke care infrastructure. This includes increasing the number of stroke units and specialists in the country. Hospitals and healthcare centres should be equipped with resources such as diagnostic equipment, medications, and rehabilitation services to help manage and treat stroke cases.

The ePIS is a system that should have up-to-date information about each and every Bhutanese citizen who has ever had to consult a doctor. And that should inform our intervention programmes. Sadly, however, we are still struggling with data. We can not afford to grope in the dark anymore.

The government and stakeholders have a crucial role to play in addressing such emerging health problems in Bhutan, which is very costly—prioritisation of resource allocation and funding for the prevention and management of stroke and others health problems is becoming increasingly urgent.

Our plans should include targets, timelines, and action steps for all stakeholders, including the government, healthcare providers, and the public. This can not happen without clear data.

Investment in health is important. But then, results are by much more important. Our health system should focus more on curative healthcare so that we cut the cost significantly by getting down to the root causes of illnesses.