About The Project

One of Bhutan’s biggest challenges is how it will be able to sustain free health care and improve health care for its citizens. The Bhutan Foundation is helping the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) build institutional and systems capacity in Bhutan for strengthening public health educational programs, training, research, and policy development.

Supporting Faculty Development

KGUMSB is the only health-training institute in Bhutan. The Bhutan Foundation created a training program in which KGUMSB’s Faculty of Nursing and Public Health attend a semester fellowship at Yale School of Public Health with the goal of improving the content, methods, and techniques of teaching public health courses in Bhutan.

Creating a Platform for Health Research

The Bhutan Foundation is supporting the launch of Bhutan’s first medical journal, the Bhutan Health Journal. The establishment of the Bhutan Health Journal is of paramount importance in building a knowledge-based society and conducting evidence-based discourses. The journal will provide a platform to publish scientific articles for the researcher, a learning platform for the health professional, and a source for helping policy-makers make evidenced-based decisions. The Foundation will also provide research grants to support new health research in Bhutan, along with health research trainings, such as workshops in writing scientific papers, research methodology, research ethics, and more.

Nutrition and Lifestyle

Public discourse is a healthy complement to aid policy decision-making in Bhutan. Health and nutrition in Bhutan have attracted greater interest as the Bhutanese public becomes increasingly aware of the long-term benefits of eating healthy foods and living an active lifestyle. The Bhutan Foundation will provide a platform to share and conduct research on nutrition and lifestyle focusing on four important perspectives: economy, environment, health, and spirituality.

Nomad Health Camp

Bhutanese highlanders, still practicing their traditional way of life, are often considered the custodians of the northern borders and are important to Bhutan. However, due to extreme geographical terrains and climatic barriers, most health, education, telecommunications, and other services are limited in these regions.

With the objective of reaching the untouched population of Bhutan, providing basic medical services, and advocating for preventive health measures, the Bhutan Foundation leads Nomad Health Camps in three districts, in partnership with the parks and the district hospitals. The medical services include general screening focused on detection of NCDs, including chronic infections such as tuberculosis, leprosy, and others, while providing holistic health care. Other services include laboratory, dental, eye, physiotherapy, traditional medicine, and medicine dispensing.

BHUTAN HAS SUSTAINED PRIMARY HEALTH CARE COVERAGE AT ABOVE 90%

Project Updates

December 14, 2017

The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Bhutan Foundation organized a three-day workshop to develop the nation’s health research priority list and identify priority areas for capacity building.

At the end of the workshop, 25 priority topics were proposed. They will be shared with relevant ministries, development partners, and civil society organizations for two more rounds and will be consolidated by the MOH.

November 7, 2017

As a part of our Nomad Health Camp, the Bhutan Foundation supported the Medical Education Center for Research, Innovation and Training (MECRIT) under KGUMSB to conduct a community needs assessment in the Soe (Jomolhari) district in 2016. With the objective to identify key areas for intervention and promote healthier lifestyles, the survey focused on current and past family health and risk status, environmental conditions, reproductive health, nutrition, and access to health care.

The study highlights a major need for civil service organizations and the government to work together to address health issues such as waste management, cancer prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, and alcohol and drug awareness.

November 3, 2017

At the 2017 International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences in Thimphu, the Minister of Economic Affairs launched the fifth edition of the Bhutan Health Journal. In keeping with this year's theme--Lifestyle-related Diseases: Challenges and Opportunities--the journal highlighted research on gestational diabetes mellitus and its association with pregnancy outcomes, and non-communicable diseases. It also included research on anemia and risk factors among children, a report on maternal hypovitaminosis D as a cause of neonatal seizure, and an article on children's environmental health in South Asia.

The Bhutan Foundation is proud to support the Bhutan Health Journal. In addition to funding its printing, the Foundation continues to support the training of medical professionals in areas of research and scientific writing. An electronic copy of the journal will soon be available on the Bhutan Health Journal and Bhutan Foundation websites.

October 31, 2017

The Nomad Health Camp in Bumthang is led by the medical professional from Bumthang District Hospital in partnership with the Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP) through the Bumthang Health Team (BHT). Since 2015, the Bhutan Foundation has supported the camp upon request from the stakeholders, especially the BHT, an informal community group.

Since 2015, the Bhutan Foundation has supported three health camps in Bumthang, ascending as high as 16,076 feet above sea level. The camp lasts about 15 days. Over the course of three years, the camp has been able to reach more than 130 highlanders, covering more than 10 villages in the northern region of Bumthang.

September 25, 2017

In August 2017, a team of four senior officials, lead by the chief editor of the Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ) visited the Nepal Medical Association (NMA) in Katmandu, Nepal. The group from the new BHJ shared their challenges and sought advice from the team in Nepal.

According to one of the Bhutanese officials, the visit to Nepal helped strengthen the association between the NMA and the BHJ. Given the current lack of human resources at the BHJ, the NMA agreed to assist in improving BHJ’s online visibility and assist in archiving the previous issues of the journal. Opportunities such as exchange programs and capacity development trainings were discussed to further strengthen the journal and increase the frequency of the BHJ issues. As a result, three officials from the BHJ team will be sent to Nepal for training in March 2018.

As recommended, upon arriving back in Bhutan, the BHJ team recruited one full-time ICT associate to implement and assist with technical support for the journal.

May 14, 2017

The nomadic communities of the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary are spread across high mountain pastures at altitudes over 13,000 feet above sea level. Residents remain for a majority of the year in the mountains with their livestock.

Approximately 5,000 nomadic pastoralists live inside the sanctuary in which 85 percent derive their livelihood entirely from yak herding and livestock rearing. These nomads migrate at least twice annually from the mountains to lower areas in winter and vice versa in summer with their livestock. A total of 794 highlanders were examined for general illness, blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart problems.

March 31, 2017

A three-day workshop, “Scientific Writing and Publication,” was held at the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB). This is the fourth such workshop led by the university to increase the productivity of manuscripts submitted to the Bhutan Health Journal. The workshop provided a platform for 45 Bhutanese medical professionals to build their research capacity, contributing to the larger policy discussion on public health. 

The workshop was led by the Bhutan Health Journal in partnership with KGUMSB’s faculty of postgraduate medicine, All India Institute for Medical Science (AIIMS), and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), with support from the Bhutan Foundation.

January 10, 2017

The Bhutan Foundation is pleased to support the third "Authors and Reviewers" training led by Bhutan Health Journal under Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB). The workshop, which began on 7th January trained a total of 30 participants on writing scientific research papers, followed by a two-day training on peer reviewing. These trained peer reviewers will review raw research papers submitted to the Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ).

November 21, 2016

In our continued efforts to build health research capacity at the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), the Bhutan Foundation, in partnership with the Yale School of Public Health, led a two-week training on health services research methods. Participants including nursing, nurse-midwifery, and public health faculty from KGUMSB, physicians, and traditional medicine practitioners were trained in research methods and proposal development. On the last day of the training, participants presented individual research proposals that they worked on over the course of the training. These proposals will be further developed by the participants and evaluated by the Medical Center for Research, Innovation and Training (MECRIT) under KGUMSB and would then be funded through the Bhutan Foundation’s health research grant and can also be published in the Bhutan Health Journal.

November 5, 2016

At Bhutan’s 2nd International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences, Dr. Pem Namgyel from the World Health Organization stated, “Health is only one of the 17 sustainable development goals, but health is linked directly or indirectly to no less than 10 other goals.” Dr. Namgyel was the keynote speaker for the conference’s opening event held on November 5, 2016, by the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences. In keeping with the theme of Celebrating Mother and Child Health, he talked about why maternal and child health matters and presented some of the current issues and challenges in Bhutan. His presentation was based on his editorial, which was recently published in the third issue of the Bhutan Health Journal.

Following his speech, Minister of Health Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk formally released the third edition of the Bhutan Health Journal to an audience of more than 300 international and Bhutanese policy makers, educators, physicians, and health-care personnel. The third issue of the Bhutan Health Journal highlights research and case studies in Bhutan ranging in topics from childhood dental health to incidence of leukemia in the Bhutanese population. The Bhutan Health Journal is an initiative of the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences and the Bhutan Foundation.

July 18, 2016

The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) released its second edition of the Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ) with support from the Bhutan Foundation. The journal was released by the Health Minister, His Excellency Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk. This year, the primary focus of the journal is on Non-Communicable Disease (NCD). The second edition consists of five articles, two review articles, three case reports and one viewpoint article.

So far, BHJ has published 24 articles out of which 7 articles were from the faculty members of the KGUMSB, 9 from district health workers around the country, 3 from the Ministry of Health officials and 5 from international authors.

The third issue of the journal is scheduled to be published in November 4 during the inaugural of the ‘2nd International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences 2016.’

June 6, 2016

The Bhutan Foundation officially signed two one-year project agreements with the Gross National Happiness Commission and Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) to support health research in Bhutan and conduct health check-ups for nomad communities.

The first project will support three key areas of health research: publishing the Bhutan Health Journal (3rd and 4th edition), building capacity of local researchers, and promoting research and scientific publication. By supporting these key areas, the Bhutan Foundation in collaboration with KGUMSB aims to promote academic excellence at the University as well as Bhutan through high-quality publications and to foster quality scientific papers in Bhutan.

The second project will support the Nomad Health Camps in Soe gewog under the Thimphu District. Following the successful health campaign in 2015 during the Jomolhari Festival, the Bhutan Foundation and faculty of Nursing & Public Health under KGUMSB will continue Phase Two of this project, which includes data collection and analysis. The objective of this project is to obtain baseline health status to identify specific health needs of the community and develop holistic interventions.

May 20, 2016

The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) led a five-day training, Health Economics Training, in collaboration with Boston University, with more than 25 participants from the health sector. The need to strengthen health-care systems, in terms of improving the capacity to meet the health-care needs of the population, has become a high priority in Bhutan.

The training, which was led by Professor Bruce Larson from Boston University, provided various methods of identifying cost implications of conducting research and medical tests. Participants were introduced to various topics, such as the Cost Estimation of a Point of Care CD4 Test, cost of implementing programs, cost-outcome analysis, calculation of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and much more.

January 8, 2016

The second Authors, Reviewers, and Editors training, led by the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), concluded today with more than 30 participants from across the country.

The training provided exposure for health professionals, built capacity for potential authors, and widened the existing pool of reviewers in Bhutan. The first two days of the workshop enhanced the skills and knowledge of local authors and potential future authors. Seventeen articles were refined during this session in consultation with international editors, including Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood from the Yale School of Public Health, Dr. William McFarland from the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Saiman Nundy from Ganga Ram Institute. The second half of the training focused on building capacity for peer reviewers, who will serve as future Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ) reviewers, and the last session focused on training board members of the journal for planning the way forward.

The second BHJ issue is scheduled to launch in May 2016. The BHJ is a joint initiative of KGUMSB and the Bhutan Foundation.

November 11, 2015

The Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ), Bhutan's first scientific medical journal, was launched on November 11, 2015 in honor of the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King of Bhutan. The journal was internationally peer-reviewed and incorporates clinical, para-clinical, medical education, nursing, midwifery, traditional medicine, public health, health policy, planning and financing. The Bhutan Health Journal is an official scientific publication of the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences and supported by the Bhutan Foundation.

July 30, 2015

A five-day Authors & Reviewers Workshop was organized by the Bhutan Health Journal and supported by the Bhutan Foundation. The workshop was led by the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan with facilitators from Yale School of Public Health, University of California San Francisco, and the Mayo Clinic. This workshop was conducted for all authors who will be publishing their research in the first public health journal in Bhutan, the Bhutan Health Journal, which will launch in November 2015 in celebration of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck's 60th birth anniversary.

February 18, 2015

Phuntsho Choden is the fifth faculty member from Bhutan’s Faculty of Nursing and Public Health (FNPH) to spend a semester at the Yale School of Public Health as a postgraduate fellow. With the goal of improving teaching and learning practices in Bhutan, she is taking courses in epidemiology, community health program evaluation, and global health research. Ms. Choden, who earned her master’s degree in public health from Thailand, observed very different approaches to teaching practices of epidemiology between her experiences in Thailand and at Yale. Just seven faculty members lead the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) public health programs, and Ms. Choden says that Yale’s partnership has strengthened the program quickly.

Ms. Choden’s prior research includes work on mortality surveillance, burn injuries, and low back pain as a result of occupational injuries. Upon her return to Bhutan, she plans to study the relationship between alcohol and driving as well as alcohol and gender violence. She anticipates that the RIHS public health program will also study its own impact now that over 50 practitioners have graduated from RIHS and have been placed in basic health units in 20 districts throughout Bhutan.

November 18, 2014

Bhutan’s Ministry of Health, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, and the Bhutan Foundation organized a four-day Health Research Mapping and Priority Setting Workshop. The workshop was the first of its kind in Bhutan, where stakeholders met to discuss the importance of prioritizing Bhutan’s health research needs. Its purpose was to determine the scale and scope of health research in the country and identify a preliminary list of priority research agendas.

During the workshop, preliminary priority research areas were drafted, such as health systems and universal coverage, noncommunicable diseases, maternal and child health, human resources, quality of care, antimicrobial resistance, and communicable diseases of public health significance. Barriers for research, such as lack of funding, capacity issues, unreliable health data, no in-country health research journals to publish articles, and no incentives or dedicated time for research, were also discussed. Research capacity gaps also need to be identified and filled through short- and long-term trainings.

July 31, 2014

When Faculty of Nursing and Public Health (FNPH) lecturer Pema Udon attended a semester at the Yale School of Public Health as a visiting scholar in 2012, she hoped to share her knowledge with her students back in Bhutan to the benefit of all Bhutanese citizens. And now, it has happened: 24 of Ms. Udon’s RIHS students have graduated with their bachelor’s degree in public health and will now be placed throughout Bhutan as District Health Officers to plan, execute, monitor, and evaluate public health programs within their regions. “My visit to Yale will have a rippling effect in the long run benefiting the Bhutanese population,” said Ms. Udon.

While at Yale, Ms. Udon took a course on program planning, monitoring, and evaluation as a part of her overall program and was then able to replicate this module in Bhutan for her students. The students spent three months in the field throughout Bhutan to determine their public health research topics, which they then presented. Some of the research topics were A Responsible Alcohol Service Program, Continuous Health Quality Improvement for Rural Communities, Infection Control and Waste Management, Recording and Reporting System, and Pap Smear Screening, among others.

The Bhutan Foundation is proud to support the visiting scholar program at the Yale School of Public Health. So far, the Foundation has supported three lecturers from RIHS and is looking forward to supporting more RIHS faculty in building their capacity as well as supporting public health research throughout the country.

Project Stats

Our Partners

The Bhutan Foundation is partnering with the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences to support public health programs in Bhutan. Fellowships for Bhutanese faculty, student exchanges, and public health training workshops are developed in collaboration with Yale University School of Public Health.

BHUTAN HAS 2 DOCTORS AND 8 NURSES PER 10,000 POPULATION, WHICH IS ONE OF THE LOWEST IN THE REGION

How You Can Help

The Bhutan Foundation needs donations in order to support public health research and capacity-building in Bhutan. We need your help to improve the lives of all Bhutanese through supporting public health. Here’s how your donation can make a difference: