YK Poudel 

The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) receives at least one emergency stroke patient every day. Last year, of the 239 stroke cases JDWNRH recorded, 47 passed away.

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), commonly called stroke, is on the rise in Bhutan. In the last five years (2017-2021), there were 2,510 cases of CVA of which 359 died from the disease.

A stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to parts of the brain is cut off.

Sowai Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that lack of a balanced diet, hypertension, and obesity are major contributors to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like stroke.

The health ministry is rolling out a series of interventions as a measure to work on stroke cases.

She said, “These lifestyle diseases require behavioural changes among people. The health ministry has started working closely with the education and skill development ministry, monastic institutions, Royal Civil Service Commission, and private sectors to bring out a series of interventions to prevent the rising stroke cases in the country.”

Concerned with the rising cases, the health ministry has collaborated with the World Stroke Foundation to build the capacity of health workers for early and immediate care.

The ministry is developing an efficient protocol for recognition and stroke management, with which a series of interventions will be rolled out nationally soon.

Last year, Bhutan received an award from the United Nations for the implementation of the Service with Care and Compassion Initiative (SCCI)—a people-centred approach to the delivery of NCD services at the dzongkhag level.

According to the health ministry reports, the initiative is rolled out in 15 dzongkhags in the country as of now. The ministry will be scaling up SCCI in all 20 dzongkhags by the end of this year.

This is an initiative through which services are being provided to bedridden patients of stroke, palliative, and cancer.

The Department of Public Health is working in collaboration with Bhutan Stroke Foundation in reaching out to more people.