Ministry of Health & Ministry of Education

The gift of the pandemic to the nation will be more focus and investments in Health and Education: PM

More budget to be allocated for both in the 5-year plan and annual budget along with reforms

One of the major outcomes of the COVID-19 crisis is that the government is planning major investments and far reaching changes and reforms in Education and Health. 

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said, “For health we have unconditional support. I said to the MoH and Lyonpo Dechen please do what you need to and please don’t worry about resources. Leave that to us. Their job is to just ask for the amount and we just give them the money to fight the pandemic and any routine activities that has a direct bearing on Pandemic is looked at very seriously.”

Lyonpo Dechen said that the government has sent Nu 1.1 bn till date on test kits, PPE and reagents for testing not even counting the quarantine costs.

“But at the same time I have been repeatedly telling the MoH not to sideline or overlook routine health care. So we have the vaccination program rolled out and it is being carried out almost as usual and an NCD program is going all out without any interruption,” said the PM.

He said unlike in other years they have not had a malaria and dengue outbreak this year which would have been disastrous.

The PM said they have been extra careful with all this and now the season is almost over as Thimphu Tshechu is around the corner and after that they do not get malaria and dengue outbreaks.

“The same is with education. His Majesty’s concern is that if this nation has to progress or be called a state of GNH there has to be a huge social investment. Social investment has to happen through education and health where there is absolutely free education and healthcare of high quality,” said the PM.

“So that has been the broad command and so while relooking into our Five Year Plan and relooking at the budget we would like to pump in more money into these social sectors,” he added. 

Lyonchhen said that things have been managed quite well and a lot of investments have already been made as past planners have done a lot of good work and so the job becomes much easier for the government to continue and leapfrog ahead.

Lyonchhen said they would to pay a lot of attention to the software part of both the sectors as the hardware part is there. 

He said the physical structures are there and what needs to be done for physical infrastructure is difficult during COVID-19 as construction is difficult and they would have to import materials and imported labour force.

“But what is not difficult is to improve the software component to make it more efficient, to have enough knowledge to digitalize the whole system and so that is something that we are very passionate about,” said the PM.

“So in these two sectors we must come out very strong and clean and that would be the gift of the Pandemic to the whole nation and future generations,” he added.

Lyonchhen said that when they talk of high quality medical care it does not mean a seven-star hotel type hospital.

“If we do the things we are doing with minimum or zero side effects and complications and with as minimum inconvenience possible to the service recipient then that too is high end,” he said. 

“So we have a lot of excitement in health and education to bring it up to the international level and yet be absolutely free. These two things do not go well together internationally but we would like to achieve that,” said the PM.

The PM said that schools and academic institutions need to be redesigned in a manner that is relevant now.

“The relevance of education has been talked about a lot and so now we need to target the root of education that is our curriculum and target the source of education that is our teaching faculty.  So if we blend this together with what is needed then the outcome would be something that is expected. If we just keep talking about the expected outcome and don’t tackle the root of the problem, then we will not get anywhere,” he said.   

The PM said that reforms is already happening in curriculum, ‘ICT-ization’ of the whole school system is happening, digitalizing the text books is happening and they will teach what is really relevant in the job market.

The PM said that for teachers they will need to pay a lot of attention to Paro and Samtse Teachers training colleges.

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