Media critical for advocating various health issues to public: WHO

A three-day media workshop on the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) and the Health related SDGs in Paro was held from 4th to 6th July. The main objective of the workshop is to engage the stakeholders in a participatory learning exercise about public health issues in Bhutan.

Chief Planning Officer (CPO), Ministry of Health, Tashi Penjor, said the media is quite prominent globally, and nobody undermines the role of media. He said the media has a very strong presence and influence to encourage the people to make certain policy decisions and change public opinion.

He said the information sharing is important, especially the health related information from the bottom level. Partnering with media will directly and indirectly help educate the public on health related issues, said the CPO.

He said a positive partnership would bring about positive outcome in Bhutan. Health ministry has been advocating public about health issues but the challenge is the ministry alone cannot make the targeted advocacies. In the longer term, the media can bring in good policy decisions, he said.

WHO Representative to Bhutan, Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus, said Bhutan has achieved a lot of things, such as the elimination of goiter, polio, measles and many more. These are things we need to build upon with the resources that we have at the moment, Dr de Jesus added.

“We have been always talking about triple burden. Some of them, we have been able to eliminate, however, communicable diseases still poses as a burden to us. We also have the high proportion of Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) TB and then by having these number, the cost of treatment of the MDR TB is more than three times than rest TB,” he added. At the same time, while we are fighting against communicable disease, the number of non-communicable diseases is increasing. Also the climate change has become another issue in Bhutan.

While we have achieved so many things, we are also fighting triple burden of diseases. With this burden, we need to look into the building block of health system. The number one is human resources, said Dr de Jesus.

WHO Representative said Bhutan is blessed with strong health leadership for so long, however, there is a need to increase government budget for health, and at the same be careful in utilizing the existing budget.

He said the media is very important. WHO or even health ministry does not have access to people like the media does. “We need support to help spread good messages about health and educate people to give people the right information about their health and emerging health issues,” he added.

The workshop also held discussions on the 12th Five Year Plan’s Strategic Result Areas, Healthy & Caring Society Enhanced that are aligned with SDGs. It also highlighted the plans to ensure healthy lives and promote the well being for all, at all ages. General Program of Work (GPW) 13: Triple Billion Goals (1bn Achieving UHC, 1bn Addressing Health Emergencies and 1bn Promoting Healthier Populations) and challenges related to health.

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