Bhutan - Interplast

Bhutan

Country Information

Bhutan has about 741,000 people living in an area of 38,394 square kilometres. The Bhutanese have made significant progress within the health sector in the past few decades, with a remarkable increase in life expectancy and consistent investments in public health over this time. However, rapid environmental, demographic and epidemiological transitions, including urbanisation, have brought with them new challenges to the health of the population, including road trauma and occupational safety issues. While the country provides free primary health care to its citizens, there is a need for further development of specialised skills relating to surgery and allied health care.

Program History

Interplast was contacted in early 2014 by a South Australian hand surgeon and hand therapist who have been undertaking volunteer programs in hand surgery and hand therapy to Bhutan for several years. Since 2009, volunteer hand therapists, orthopaedic hand surgeons and plastic and reconstructive surgeons have undertaken five hand surgery and therapy mentoring programs in Bhutan. They have undertaken surgeries on a variety of hand injuries and conditions, a hand therapy clinic has been established and local staff trained in post-operative therapeutic care. These volunteers have established strong relationships and networks within Bhutan, including within the JDWN Referral Hospital, the regional based Mongarr Hospital and the Ministry of Health.

The South Australian volunteers contacted Interplast in order to establish a sustainable program including developing local plastic surgery capacity with a strategic planning focus, supported by the logistical and funding capacity of an established organization such as Interplast. In late 2014 Interplast undertook a needs assessment activity, with the team including the original South Australian volunteers and Interplast representatives. Following this activity, Interplast are now working with the JDWN Referral Hospital, the Ministry of Health and the University of Medical Sciences Bhutan in establishing a Memorandum of Understanding, to formalise the partnership and plans for programs and activities moving forward. To date, Interplast has delivered three surgical mentoring programs and three hand therapy mentoring programs to Bhutan.

Current Programs

In the 2018/19 financial year, Interplast is continuing to build the surgical and allied health capacity in Bhutan through surgical mentoring visits focused on general plastic and reconstructive surgery and hand surgery, and hand therapy. Two separate visits are planned, each including surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and hand therapists.

Keep an eye on the Calendar of Program Activities for more details, or get in touch with us.

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