June 6, 2016
For many communities living in Bhutan’s rural areas, access to health care is limited and challenging. Most of the families in these communities are yak herders living in high altitudes, far removed from motor-vehicle–accessible roads. The closest basic health unit or hospital is hours to a few days’ walk away. Due to their remoteness, these families do not get regular health check-ups or access medical help for timely intervention.
Nevertheless, health workers in Bhutan walk through rugged terrain and high altitude to see patients and provide outreach. The Bumthang Health Team is proposing to take a team of health workers to conduct nomad health camps for communities in central Bhutan. The team will include a medical doctor, dental surgeon, health assistant, menpa (traditional-medicine doctor), lab technician, ophthalmic technician, pharmacy technician, district health officer, and forestry officers from Wangchuck Centennial National Park. Health camps will be set up at eight locations along the route from Dhur to Nasphel in Choekhortoe (within Bumthang district) over a period of two weeks.
The team plans to screen communities for health-related issues, including mental, oral, vision, and dental health. This includes screening for chronic diseases, tuberculosis, leprosy, and STI/HIV. The team will also cover check-ups for pregnant women and EPI immunizations for children. They will provide immediate treatment, perform blood tests, and dispense medicine as prescribed. For more serious patients, they will arrange for referrals and follow-up. While in the communities, they will also carry out advocacy and awareness education on sanitation, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, child health, and immunization.
As health care is free in Bhutan, all health services will be provided free of cost to the patients. The medical and forestry team conducting the nomad health camp will be donating their time to support the camps. To help match their time and support, the team needs funding for supplies to help cover the two weeks it takes to conduct the health camp.