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Amankora Helps Out for a Greater Good

Most visually impaired children in Bhutan start their education at the Muenselling Institute for the Visually Impaired in Khaling, Trashigang in eastern Bhutan. While a few of them graduate and pursue higher studies, most find it difficult to continue and give up on their education.  Some students who drop out of school remain dependent on their families, or start working as singers or musicians for a very meager salary.

The Bhutan Foundation, in partnership with the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB), aims to help some of these youth transition into better and stable jobs.  As our first step, we have collaborated with Amankora, Bhutan. Amankora is a branch of the luxury hotel group, Aman Resorts, with presence in over 15 countries across the world. They have generously offered to train visually impaired candidates in spa therapy. With the hotel and spa industry growing in Bhutan a career as a spa therapist projects a brighter and more secure future.

DPAB has identified four candidates who have dropped out including one that has never been to school. These candidates will be trained for six months in spa therapy at the Amankora, Thimphu.

After the training the candidates will be certified as spa therapists. Depending on vacancies available and their aptitude, they will have the opportunity to be employed by Amankora. Contingent on this program being successful, Amankora has agreed to train more people with disabilities in their other lodges around the country.

Strengthening Collaboration

In coordination with the Ministry of Education, nineteen different organizations participated in the 6th Stakeholders Meeting for Special Education hosted by the Bhutan Foundation on March 27 in Thimphu.

The session focused mainly on four learning circles, namely:

·      Transition
·      Independence
·      Early intervention
·      Social relationship

During the session, participants were asked to join one of these learning circles – relevant to their organizations – and provide work plans on programs that they could implement. The main objective of this stakeholder meeting was to strengthen the collaboration between different stakeholders, provide a platform for better communication and present opportunities to commit to special education.

This stakeholder meeting was a continuation to the previous session held in Thimphu.

Bhutan Foundation Health advisor, Dr. Kathy Morley, recognized for commitment to Global Health

Bhutan Foundation Health advisor, Dr. Katharine Morley, MD, MPH, is a recipient of the ninth annual Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) Golden Apple Award. As part of its World Health Day observances, HVO created this award to recognize the extraordinary educational contributions of volunteers to international program sites. Each volunteer honored with this award has demonstrated a strong commitment to HVO’s educational mission by working on curriculum development, teacher training, didactic or clinical training, or the enhancement of educational resources.

Dr. Morley is an emergency medicine/urgent care physician who was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Bhutan Foundation’s Emergency Medical Services project. With the support of the Bhutan Foundation, and her network with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, she recruits expertise to develop Bhutan’s National Emergency Medicine and Trauma Care training program. She emphasized the creation of modules that are customized to the local context and targeted to the needs of Bhutanese physicians and nurses. With this project, HVO volunteers have helped guide and mentor their Bhutanese colleagues toward improvements in patient flow, hospital management, and improved patient care in the Emergency Department. The training modules that Dr. Morley helped develop are now mandatory for all physicians practicing in Bhutan. This has resulted in the first standardized set of protocols and emergency care procedures for the country.

Since the project’s inception in 2009, Dr. Morley has served as its Project Director. She interviews, prepares, and does follow-up with each HVO volunteer to ensure that they are well prepared and to monitor the needs of the project. She makes annual visits to Bhutan, during which she meets with the physicians and nurses to receive feedback on the project, always with the goal of improving it. To ensure that the project is sustainable, she engages Bhutanese specialists and focuses on using local providers as trainers, with HVO volunteers as facilitators. Her vision and commitment to improving emergency medicine in Bhutan is already making a significant difference in patients’ lives.

Dr. Morley earned her undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College, medical degree from Boston University, and Masters of Public Health from Harvard University. She is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist, specializing in the urgent care of adults, at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The World Health Organization’s Global Health Workforce Alliance has stated,” Health workers are the heart and soul of health systems. And yet, the world is faced with a chronic shortage – an estimated 4.2 million health workers are needed to bridge the gap, with 1.5 million needed in Africa alone. The critical shortage is recognized as one of the most fundamental constraints to achieving progress on health and reaching health and development goals.” They estimate that one billion in the world will never see a health worker in their lives.

“I am very pleased that the contributions made by Katharine Morley towards improving emergency medical care are being recognized with this award,” said Nancy Kelly, HVO’s Executive Director. “By highlighting the accomplishments of volunteers like Dr. Morley, we hope to raise awareness of global health issues and encourage others to work towards better health care around the world.”