Apart from 41 agencies that signed APAs with Prime Minister in 2016, five new agencies signed APAs with the government for 2017-18.
They are Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences (KGUMS), Drug Regulatory Authority, Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA), Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF) and Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC).
Tashi Rabgay, planning division of KGUMS, said 2017-2018 is the final year of the 11th plan and the university aims to achieve and meet all the goals set for the current plan.
“As a medical university our main focus is more on the academic development and to meet the shortage of health human resources in the country,” he said. He also the university’s APA 2017-2018 was planned with the objective to strengthen Academic Program and to Enhance Research and Development.
He also said that as the only medical university in the country, the university also facilitates intellectual growth for all the health workers through research and training.
In the last FY year they designed the curriculum in M.Sc. Drungtsho, Certificate courses in Midwifery and Essential New born, OT, Dialysis, Adult ICU, which will be initiated this academic year.
Sonam Tasha, BNCA’s Assistance Program officer said that in the APA for the fiscal year they plan to decentralize programs to local government and dzongkhag administration. “We are targeting 15 dzongkhags,” he said.
The yearly programs is the destruction of marijuana in the country, giving training on law enforcement to all relevant agencies, advocacy on drugs in schools and to counselors, business community, parents and teachers. They will also be reviewing the drop-in centers on its effectiveness and how they can reach-out to the clients.
Sonam Phuntsho, a Director of BHTF, said that they have been signing APA with the health ministry but this is the first time signing with the Prime Minister. “As a trust fund, our mandate is clear, which is to ensure financing of essential drugs and vaccines. Therefore it is more to do with the sustainability of primary health care services in Bhutan,” he said.
He also said that right now the limitation is with the fund size as the fund size grows. “PM and Health Minister say that in the next one year ADB has committed 10 million USD and government is putting in 500 million to the fund,” he said.
In addition, the government of Bangladesh have also committed to supply essential drugs to Bhutan of Nu 200 million and Korea has also committed to supply drugs worth more than 200 million.
“The achievement made in the past APA signing was 100 percent and we expect the same for this fiscal year because the scope at this point is not huge whereby the mandate is just to finance essential drugs and vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sonam Dorji, registrar of BMHC said that as regulators they have their own mandates, which is routine in nature and that they don’t have any new project like other agencies.
“We do the registration, conduct competency exam for medical health professionals who are not from the recognized agencies and we sit with the KGUMS and review the curriculum,” he said. “We also see if the hospitals have a standard operating procedure in place or not, if health workers are as per the standard or not and sensitize on how to give better service to the patients.”
Since they de-linked from the ministry in January 2017 and as a new establishment, the first thing they have put in the APA is to strengthen their office. “I personally feel that we have to be more careful for this fiscal year with any plan as two election will be held whereby lots of restriction will be out in place from ECB and with this we have to make sure that we will bring in a realistic plan,” he added.
They will also concentrate on amending the BMHC 2002 Act and if possible, put it up in the first session of the new elected parliament.
Jigme Tenzin, a regulatory officer of DRA said the key focus areas of their APA 2017-2018 are to enhance the registration process of medicinal products to increase availability of the medicines in the country and strengthening the quality monitoring of medicines (products, personnel, storage, and manufacturing premises) to ensure quality and safety.
They will also enforce the Blood and Blood Product Regulation 2016, ensure that services are provided to clients within the minimum turnaround time and strengthening the regulatory enforcement capacity.