Nima Wangdi 

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, during the inaugural of the 75th session of the Regional Committee (RC) for the World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia region in Paro yesterday, said that Covid-19 continues to test the resilience of Bhutan’s health systems at all levels.

“Health systems across the world continue to face challenges with shortage of human resources, difficulties in assessing essential medicines for routine services, managing the intricacies of securing the required therapeutics, and diagnostic for Covid-19,” Lyonpo said.

The Covid-19 pandemic was more than a health crisis, she said. “Countless vulnerable groups have been pushed into extreme poverty.”

These widening gaps slowed Bhutan’s collective momentum towards achieving our shared goals of universal health coverage according to Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo. “It continues to threaten our health and economic gains.”

The committee elected Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo as the chairperson for the session

“Today is an opportunity for all to rethink, redesign, and rewrite strategies and interventions to accelerate and enhance equitable and quality health services in the South-East Asian region that is home to one-fourth of the global population,” Lyonpo said.

“While we continue to fight the pandemic, there is a surge of monkeypox virus. It is time that the leaders, experts, and partners, took stock of gaps in areas that need more attention in the context of our commitments to realise the triple billion targets and sustainable development goals,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo was also elected as the chairperson of the session.

A book titled “The People’s Pandemic” was also launched during the inaugural session. The book showcases how Bhutan fought the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 300 delegates from the member countries, including the health ministers, are participating in the session.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering attended the inaugural session at Paro College of Education yesterday. The meeting will continue at Hotel Le Meridian in Paro.

This is the 3rd regional committee that Bhutan is hosting. The venue of the regional committee meeting is rotated among the 11 member countries of South-East Asia on an annual basis with the convening held in New Delhi, the headquarters of SEARO, once every five years.

The 75th Regional Committee will end on September 9.