Indo-Bhutan Neuroscience Program
To train qualified medical post graduates to become world standard Neurosurgeons & Spine
surgeons who will establish in future, a center of excellence in Neurosciences at Bhutan.
The objectives of the collaboration are to:
1. Establish a regular long term Neurosurgical exchange training program wherein the doctors
and paramedical staffs are trained periodically in association with NGOs (SUKRIYA &
ROTARY) and under aethis of the Directors of Neurosciences at Sakra world hospital,
2. Periodic visits by Neuro and Spine surgeons from SAKRA WORLD Hospital to Bhutan to
conduct surgeries, free medical camps and workshops.
Bhutan Medical system
Bhutan is a land locked country at the Eastern end of the Himalayas, which introduced its first
constitution in 2008 and got transformed into a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
since then (1, 2). The total population is 9574000 as per the recent census with 69.1% of them
living in rural areas. The average life expectancy in Bhutan is 70.2 years. Bhutan health care
system is the best compared to other low and middle income countries with household out-of-
pocket expenditure for medical expenses being low (3). There is a three-tiered health system in
Bhutan which includes primary, secondary and tertiary levels that provide preventive, promotive,
and curative services. This is implemented through 31 hospitals, 178 basic health units and 654
outreach clinics present in 20 districts and 205 subdistricts of Bhutan (3). The national referral
centre named Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) was started in
1956 at Thimpu and has 381 beds with 20 departments and 1303 staffs covering most of the
specialties of medicine and surgery. Bhutan became a signatory to the Alma-Ata declaration in
1978. Since then, Bhutan has ascribed utmost importance to the health of its people. Currently,
the government is spending about 5.7% of its total planned budget on health. All the treatment,
including referrals to facilities outside the country, is provided free by the Royal Government of
Bhutan to all its citizens and the country has no private medical facilities.
Bhutan has friendly associations with various countries which provide human resources as well
as infrastructure development and budget support (3, 7). India being the neighbour and a friendly
country, has been in longterm association with Bhutan to collabarate on various aspects
including medical education. This exchange program will ultimately help the surgeons and the
orthopedicians of Bhutan to provide advanced surgical care and management for the patients
suffering from neurological illness without the need for referral to higher centers in other
countries. The program will include quarterly neurosurgery and neurology health camps for the
patients which will be attended by established expert doctos from India. Surgeries for the ailing
citizens of Bhutan will be performed by the Indian expert specialists in Bhutan hospitals based
on the available resources in the hospital setup and at free cost.
Execution of the program
The Exchange program mainly focuses on:
1. Education and training of the medical professionals in Bhutan to pursue Neuro and Spine
2. Transfer of knowledge and skills: The qualified professionals from India volunteering
periodically to perform neuro and spine surgeries in government designated hospitals at Bhutan.