Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother Kesang Choeden Wangchuck graced the groundbreaking ceremony of the Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck National Eye Centre in Thimphu, yesterday.

HRH Princess Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck accompanied Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother.

The health ministry’s director general, Dr Pandup Tshering, said that Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother and HRH Princess Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck’s support and contribution to the health sector have contributed greatly to the improvement of the health of the Bhutanese people.

The centre will have 16 beds in four aseptic wards, specialised out-patient departments and in-patient eye services, three operation theatres and other amenities necessary to provide effective eye care services.

The centre is also expected to build capacity of health professionals in the country.

“The groundbreaking ceremony of the national eye centre is a milestone in the history of health services of Bhutan,” Dr Pandup Tshering said.

He added that the hospital being the first national eye centre in the country would further improve the quality of eye care services and develop sub specialisation in ophthalmology in the country.  At the same time, it will help provide quality training for health professionals and contribute towards further strengthening the health system in the country, he added.

The centre, named in honour of Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother, will be a state-of-the-art eye care centre.

“It will be a seat of excellence that will provide the best eye care services to the Bhutanese people,” a health ministry press release states.

The establishment of the centre is technically and financially supported by the Himalayan Cataract Project, led by Dr Sanduk Ruit and the Wen Giving Foundation, an organisation based in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, to improve the quality of life of those in need.

Dr Sanduk Ruit said that the hospital built should act as a clinical, training and research hospital for Bhutan. “It has to have a fantastic community master plan to reach every corner of Bhutan. I think this is a country where we can show the world that we can prevent and eradicate avoidable blindness much earlier than other countries.”

He added: “We are already talking about building up a five-year master plan for the prevention of blindness programme in Bhutan. Let’s all work together, increase the quality and the reach, and make sure that the hospital is utilised properly.”

Dechen Tshomo