In June, the Bhutan Foundation worked in partnership with Perkins International and the Royal Education Council to facilitate a three-day workshop on developing an inclusive curriculum framework for Bhutan’s public schools. The workshop—the first of its kind—was mainly targeted for senior curriculum development officers and designed to explore the curricular needs of children with multiple disabilities. The three-day discussion centered around providing an appropriate curriculum that ensures inclusion of students with multiple disabilities and aligns with the national curriculum of Bhutan.
The workshop was timely, as the Royal Education Council is currently developing the National Curriculum Framework and now will be able to ensure it incorporates provisions to address children with special needs. Representatives from the Paro College of Education, Early Childhood Care and Development and Special Education Needs Division, under the Ministry of Education, and Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools and parent support group members actively participated in the workshop, providing valuable input and suggestions.
The Bhutan Foundation will continue to work with the Royal Education Council and other relevant stakeholders in ensuring quality and wholesome education for children with disabilities in Bhutan.
“If research is regarded as the ‘brain’ of global health, then ethics serves as its conscience”
—Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta
Often, ethical considerations of a scientific research study raise important questions about the core purpose of research. On June 20, 2018, the Bhutan Foundation supported the first-ever training of the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan’s (KGUMSB’s) Institutional Review Board (IRB). The primary purpose of the university’s IRB is to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in research conducted by faculty and students. The training, Introduction to Research Ethics and Ethical Review of Human Subjects Research, was conducted by Professor Kaveh Khoshnood from the Yale School of Public Health and Mr. Mongal Gurung from Bhutan’s Ministry of Health. Dr. Khoshnood shared key international ethics documents and case studies, while Mr. Gurung briefed the participants on the role of the university’s IRB. In the afternoon, the IRB board members participated in a role-play of a mock IRB review, in which they assessed the ethical considerations of a research proposal. IRB members include representatives from KGUMSB, the Royal University of Bhutan, the Center for Bhutan Studies, the National Statistical Bureau, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, civil society organizations, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
Parallel to the Research Ethics workshop, the Bhutan Foundation also supported an eight-day workshop on Survey Research Methods and Proposal Development, held at the Institute of Management Studies. Dr. Mary Alice Lee and Ms. Kate Nyham from the Yale School of Public Health led the workshop in collaboration with Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) with our support. The training focuses on using survey research methods to generate information that can be used by health-care providers, public-health providers, and policy-makers to determine the most effective ways to improve population health in Bhutan. A total of 20 participants, mostly faculty members from the university, representatives from civil society organizations, and the Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency participated in this training. The participants selected a topic and developed a research proposal using the health survey research methods from the training. The Bhutan Foundation is pleased to have supported these workshops in our efforts to build health research capacity in Bhutan.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the first stakeholder meeting on Nomad Health Camps was held in Thimphu on June 14, 2018. The gathering was organized to discuss information gained from the health camps that have taken place, challenges, and lessons learned from each of the three communities. In addition, discussions on the way forward for these camps gave all stakeholders a chance to collaborate and support them. An overall report on the past health camps highlighting their achievements and their challenges was presented to the group. Speakers stressed that the health camps must continue for the benefit of the highland communities who have no access to essential health services. Discussions also addressed how these health camps can be streamlined with the programs of the government’s 12th Five Year Plan and the Ministry of Health’s outreach programs to avoid duplication of efforts across the country. Stakeholders included representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Gross National Happiness Commission, the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, the Yale School of Public Health, national parks of Bhutan, district hospitals, local governments, and community members from Jomolhari, Bumthang, and Merak and Sakteng.