Thimphu: “Today is one of the happiest days of my life,” the Health Minister said after the National Health Policy (NHP) was launched yesterday. Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa also mentioned that it is one of the major achievements after the new government was formed and “the least he could do for improving the health system.”
“But this does not mean that there were no policies at all,” he said, adding that several technical policies like the national breast feeding, blood, and essential drug policy, a consolidated and comprehensive document addressing all the determents like health service, human resource, health information and technologies of health was missing. The NHP will guide all technical health strategy, policies and plans, Lyonpo added. Asked if it will help curb corruption, the Minister said “definitely.” “There will now be increased transparency and accountability, which was not there before.”
He said that the idea was conceived after he became the health minister in 2008. According to him, the policy will also educate the people about the health system.
After two rounds of presentations and deliberation, the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) endorsed the policy on April 13 this year. It was then forwarded to the Cabinet for final approval on June 29.
The NHP will be a guide for health policies, strategies, and plans, and provide evidence based, peer-viewed policy guidance to support decision making and resource allocation at both the national and local levels.
It will reflect various inputs from social, spiritual, cultural and environmental aspects in health related plans in alignment with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
The NHP will outline strategy and options for self-reliance and sustainability by increasing efficiency, productivity, accountability and ownership in health care intervention and service delivery.
The document is a collective input from the districts and divisions of the health ministry, members of the National Assembly and National Council, NGO’s and agencies. The document was tested under the National Policy screening tool both within the Ministry of Health and the Gross National Happiness Commission.
Lyonpo also said that Bhutan has progressed immensely under the leadership of our Monarchs, especially in Primary Health Care.
“Life expectancy today has risen from 37 years in 1960 to 66 and infant mortality rate dropped from 103 per 1000 live births in 1984 to 40.1. Bhutan now sustains the Universal Childhood Immunization coverage of above 90 percent.”
Access to safe drinking water and sanitation has improved drastically over the years and in 2011, 83 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water and 91 percent to safe excreta disposal, he added. Bhutan is also on track to achieve the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). “These achievements in health makes Bhutan a model and a pioneer for the promotion of primary health care,” he added.
Lyonpo also expressed concern over non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic respiratory illnesses, which are preventable, yet Bhutanese people fall victim to them.
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