Conference On ‘Improving Quality and Patient Safety in Health Care’ Held In Thimphu, Attended By International Delegates
“Their Majesties have, at all times, stressed on the importance of uplifting the lives of our people by improving and ensuring that public services – the right of the people is fast, efficient and effective, particularly the health services,” Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk said.
By Dechen Tshomo | Kuensel
More than 200 participants, including international delegations from the United States, Australia, Sri Lanka, Norway, India, South Korea and Japan attended the fourth International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences in Thimphu from 9-11 November.
During the inaugural session of the conference held at the Royal University of Bhutan’s convention hall in Thimphu, 10 guest speakers and 25 presentations were made. The theme this year is “Improving Quality and Patient Safety in Health Care.”
Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk, the chief guest said that a healthy and contented population is important for a nation’s progress and security.
Bhutan, he said, placed special importance on the well-being and happiness of her people and aspired to raise the level of human contentment with a holistic approach to change, progress and development.
“Their Majesties have, at all times, stressed on the importance of uplifting the lives of our people by improving and ensuring that public services – the right of the people is fast, efficient and effective, particularly the health services,” he said.
He also mentioned that ‘Article 9 Section 21 of the Constitution’ emphasised that the State (Bhutan) must endeavour to provide free basic public healthcare services for her people.
The privileges which Bhutanese enjoy
Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk also said that the Bhutanese were truly blessed. There is free education for all children of school-going age up to the tenth standard.
Moreover, the country’s free healthcare services covered all the basic health services, including the latest treatment modalities except for cosmetic surgeries and some dental procedures.
“Totally free healthcare is going to be extremely costly in the future and may not be sustainable in the long run,” he said. “At the same time, there clearly must be a wise rationale for qualifying basic public health services in the Constitution.”
He said that if medical cost becomes increasingly prohibitive with the passage of time, basic public health services incorporated in the Constitution might have to be re-defined.
“In this context, we must be mindful and read the relevant provisions with Article 7 Section 1, which provides for ‘right to life,” he said.
“The reading of the two provisions of the Constitution makes it the State’s responsibility to provide security in the event of sickness and disability, with free access to basic public health services so that people do not fall victim to any ailment.”
While acknowledging the hard work of the health professionals and workers in improving healthcare services, Chief Justice said that the progress must continue.
The president of the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), Dr Kinzang P Tshering, said the conference was a platform to bring together researchers, academics, clinicians, public health specialists and different health professionals to share their research, experiences to enrich knowledge and the latest developments in the field of healthcare.
Steps which Bhutan need to take in order to reach global standards in health-care
He said that while the country has made significant progress in its health-care sector in the past five decades, it is still way behind global standards.
“With more patient awareness, gone are the times of business as usual. It is time to go from volume to value, from provider perspective to the patient-centred care,” he said. “What counts today is the value for the money, improved outcome to the patient and reduced cost.”
These, he said, would be possible only when people are conscious about the quality of health-care and put the patient at the centre of planning and service provision, and by making health-care safer with better outcome.
In addition, three books: Traditional Medicine Anatomy Book, Bhutan Health Journal and a conference abstract booklet were also launched during the inaugural conference.
KGUMSB and JDWNRH organised the annual event with support from UNICEF, WHO and the Health Ministry of Bhutan.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.