Bhutan: Strenghtening Eye Care Services and Training
The Himalayan Cataract Project began our partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) in 2000 to help develop the nation's primary eye care system. HCP recently began our fourth 5-year agreement with the RGoB, and over the past 15 years has worked to develop both primary and subspecialty eye care. HCP has provided training and equipment for Bhutan's first pediatric ophthalmologist, retina specialist, and additional cornea specialists, as well as provided resources for residency training and continuing education of Bhutan's ophthalmic nurses and midlevel personnel. In 2015, Bhutan began its first ophthalmology residency training program, and HCP continues to provide ongoing educational support to help expand this program as well as access to care through support for rural surgical outreach programs.
HCP-supported programs in Bhutan have shown significant growth in the past year. Our partners in Bhutan performed 504 surgeries in outreach settings over the course of 22 mobile eye camps, a 23.5% increase over the 408 performed over 11 mobile eye camps in the previous year. Additionally, there was a total of 1,132 cataract surgeries performed in Bhutan last year (both in-hospital and during outreach), a 14% increase from 2015. Outpatient numbers at eye hospitals are up as well, with over 140,000 patients reporting to the hospital with eye problems. Bhutan also increased their focus on training, with 25 HCP-supported training opportunities offered to ophthalmic personnel from around the country. On a national level, the country is working on developing a National Eye Strategy that will pave the way for progress in the field for years to come.