One of the reasons why it is so difficult to do business in Bhutan may be clear after reading the Health Policy 2011, EDP 2016 and FDI 2019 which all allow private investment in the health sector, but it has not taken off due to the MoH not drafting a framework.
That will hopefully change as the Health Minister has announced that the revamped Health Policy will lay the grounds for a detailed framework or conditions allowing private investment in health care.
However, more than just business, this is about our health. The citizens of Bhutan must have the right to chose between the free but overloaded public health system and paid private services.
The absence of private hospitals and clinics in Bhutan leads to large numbers of Bhutanese flying out with their family even for simple procedures like dental work. This bleeds valuable Bhutanese foreign exchange in millions of US dollars every year.
It is clear that our health system is stretched to its limit with no alternatives available. If those who can afford are allowed to opt for private medical service then it will free up space and resources for those who truly need free healthcare like a villager.
It does not have to be a ridiculous situation where a well to do person willing to pay is forced to compete for the doctor’s time and medical resources with the villager.
The old argument that allowing private investment will lead to the neglect of public health care or even lead to its privatization is complete hogwash. The Constitution itself does not permit it as it mandates free health care for every Bhutanese.
What is a fact is the rapidly swelling health budget that can be better utilised and targeted for the really needy.
Tourism has been badly hit with COVID-19 but globally the fastest growing tourism segment is well being and healing. Bhutan is in an ideal position to take advantage of this and generate revenue for our country and jobs for our youth.
The time for private investment in health care has come, and it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for the benefit of all sides.
“We are our choices.”
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