Bhutan Health Journal : intiating a new era in Bhutan

  • Phurb Dorji


The history of modern health care service in Bhutan dates back to as early as 1960s. From small humble
shacks to traditional healing, the growth of health facilities and services has seen a tremendous leap
to the present day tertiary hospitals with modern amenities. With time, the overall health status has improved and communicable diseases have
declined. However, consequent to Bhutan’s rapid socio-economic development and lifestyle changes, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) have emerged.
Actually, NCDs have exhibited a successive rise over the years resulting to huge health expenditure
in trying to contain them. Further, coupled with frequent infectious diseases outbreak and sustained
low to moderate prevalence of communicable diseases, Bhutan bears the brunt of double burden
of diseases. With changing epidemiology of disease pattern, time has come for Bhutan to adopt the
evidence based practices to confront the changing demands of societies. The answer to this new
phenomenon ultimately lies on promoting research and publications amongst the medical practitioners.
Formulation of policies and programs for improving and sustaining the health care system are
best based on evidences generated through research. The good news is that researches pertaining to health
and people’s wellbeing have been already going on in the country. To have proper Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human subject protection, the Ministry of
Health, Royal Government of Bhutan has established the Research Ethics Board of Health (REBH) in
2009 with the help of The Forum for Ethical Review Committees in the Asian and Western Pacific Region
(FERCAP) and Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) based in Bangkok. Allthose conducting any health related research/study in
Bhutan involving human subjects are required to get prior approval from the REBH. At present, the REBH
is recognized by the FERCAP and Office for Human Research Protections4 (OHRP) in USA through the
Federalwide Assurance (FWA). After establishing the REBH, we felt the need to have a scientific
journal in the country to share the knowledge in the medical fraternity. In 2010, the health research unit
of the Ministry of Health did try to launch a research based publication but without success. While all
efforts to publish a medical journal seemed to go down the drains, there appeared a ray of hope with
the establishment of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan in 2012. Three years on,
hope turned into reality. In May 2015, the Bhutan Health Journal (BHJ) was launched as an official
scientific publication of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan. Bhutan Health Journal
is an international peer reviewed journal that covers a wide range of areas such as clinical, para-clinical,
medical education, nursing and midwifery, traditional medicine, public health, health policy, planning and
financing, hospital and health care management, research, publication ethics as well as perspectives
from various fields of health sciences envisioned to bring improvement to health care service in Bhutan.
BHJ is envisaged to become a journal of excellence which focuses on health care and well-being of the
Bhutanese people. This opens up a plethora of opportunities for effective media that would foster
exchange of ideas, transfer of knowledge and technology, and promote cooperation in the field of
research not just in Bhutan, but also in the region and the global scientific community.

Author Biography

Phurb Dorji

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, JDWNR Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan.