Staff reporter

The World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO-SEARO) regional director, Saima Wazed, concluded her five-day visit to Bhutan yesterday.

According to WHO’s press release, the visit, which is the first to a member state by Saima Wazed since assuming the position, underscores WHO’s commitment to supporting Bhutan’s healthcare and public health development.

Saima Wazed was welcomed at Paro International Airport, followed by a series of high-profile meetings, facility visits, and engagements that showcased the strides Bhutan is making in healthcare.

During her visit to the Traditional Medicine Hospital in Kawajangsa, Saima Wazed lauded Bhutan’s seamless integration of traditional medicine services across all levels of healthcare.

She emphasised WHO’s support for traditional medicine, demonstrated by initiatives such as the Global Traditional Medicine Centre in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India.

During her meeting with Dasho Dechen Wangmo, head of The PEMA Secretariat, there were discussions on advancing mental health care and tackling Substance Use Disorders in Bhutan.

Saima Wazed praised the establishment of PEMA under the auspices of Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen in 2021 as a pivotal step in consolidating mental health efforts across the nation.

The visit was marked by engagements with key figures, including Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk.

The discussions focused on Bhutan’s innovative health strategies, such as the integration of primary mental health care and traditional medicine.

Saima Wazed also inaugurated CT Scan services at the Jigme Dorji Military Hospital in Dewathang virtually and launched the new Outdoor Gym at Dechen Phodrang Monastery.

These new installations, made possible with WHO support, highlight WHO’s continued support for the Bhutanese health system, according to the press release.

The visit concluded with the launch ceremony of the translated book “The Unfinished Memoirs” of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh at the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, symbolising the deep cultural and historical ties between Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The launch event was graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck and Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay.

Saima Wazed expressed her admiration for Bhutan’s health system, stating, “Although Bhutan is small, its innovative approach to healthcare is powerful and offers valuable lessons to the world.”

This visit strengthens the bond between WHO and Bhutan, paving the way for future collaborations aimed at enhancing healthcare services and achieving health for all in Bhutan.