Taking action on prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in Bhutan by strengthening gross national happiness
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are major public health problem in Bhutan, accounting for 68% of total deaths. The growing epidemic of NCDs threatens the achievement of Gross National Happiness (GNH). NCDs are the results of complex interaction of social and economic risk factors and change in diet and lifestyle. Effective action to prevent and control these diseases requires a whole-of-government approach.In this paper we review new evidence to support political priority for NCDs in Bhutan. One third of the Bhutanese are overweight (33%) and hypertensive (35.7), and 6.4% are diabetic. The prevalence of modifiable risk factors is also very high. We also present the analysis of strategic policy opportunities for health sector to integrate the ‘Multisectoral national action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, 2015-2020’ into policies across all relevant sectors. Our analysis has identified three specific opportunities for the health sector to engage strategically to strengthen action on NCDs and GNH, concurrently: 1) raising priority actions on NCDs within the existing GNH multisectoral committee, to achieve both health and happiness objectives; 2) identifying shared agenda between NCDs and GNH to achieve both health and happiness objectives; and 3) identifying shared GNH determinants between NCDs and GNH to enhance action on NCDs. Addressing NCDs aligns with the optimization of Gross National Happiness. It is imperative that the Government of Bhutan recognize that action on NCDs is an integral element for achieving GNH.
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Copyright (c) 2018 Gyambo Sithey, Anne Marie Thow, Jayendra Sharma, Karma Lhazin, Mu Li
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