Bhutan becomes WONCA Academic Member

Photo: Bhutan colleagues during visit of Michael Kidd.

Dr Chhabi Lal Adhikari, Professor and GP Course Coordinator, Department of General Practice at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan writes on the journey that has led to Bhutan’s first GP specialist training programme and then to that programme becoming a WONCA Academic Member Organization.

Bhutan has finally joined the other South East Asian countries to start a masters level training programme in General Practice ¬¬from July 2017. It is a four year training course to be done after MBBS. The successful candidates will be awarded MD in General Practice by Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB).

The Ministry of Health, Royal Civil Service Commission and the Medical Council of Bhutan have all now recognized those who have completed the training programme as a specialist, at par with any other specialty.

This would not have been possible without the support and consistent encouragement from WONCA global and regional leaders. I was introduced to WONCA by my teacher and WONCA South Asia Region (SAR) immediate past president, Professor Pratap Prasad. I became the first WONCA Direct member from Bhutan, in February 2014. In the same year in August, I was able attend the regional conference held Chennai, India, with the support of Montegut scholarship. It helped me to know the global and regional WONCA leaders and the talk given by Professor Michael Kidd was really touching for me. Since then, my focused and persistent effort to start an in-country training programme became a reality after three years.

In 2015 November, Dr Garth Manning, WONCA CEO and Professor Pratap, WONCA SAR President, were invited to Bhutan’s first ever International Medical Conference to talk on health care systems and medical education. Their visit left a lasting impression on the minds of our medical colleagues and policy makers on General Practice.

In 2016 March, I was successful to secure an Endeavour Executive Fellowship to write the curriculum for our GP programme under the mentorship of Professor Michael Kidd at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

In August 2017, with the support and advice of Professor Kanu Bala, current WONCA SAR president and the WONCA Secretariat, our Department of General Practice applied for WONCA Academic Membership. Our membership was approved during the recent WONCA Executive Meeting held at Bangkok in November 2017.

It was an honour and priviledge to receive the WONCA Academic Membership from a renowned global leader and immediate WONCA past president, Professor Michael Kidd during his recent Bhutan visit. He was invited by the medical university to give a talk on “Health Professions Education” during the 3rd International Medical Conference from November 3 – 5, 2017.

Prof Michael Kidd awarding the WONCA Academic certificate to the department of General Practice, KGUMSB during a simple ceremony over the dinner in presence of President of the University, Director General of the Ministry of Health and Head of the Departments of the National Referral Hospital.

Our academic programmes are at a budding stage and we are learning with every step we take. We need support from regional and international institutions to develop our faculty and strengthen the GP residency programme in Bhutan. We offer our sincere gratitude to WONCA especially Prof Michael Kidd, Prof Pratap N Prasad, Prof Kanu Bala, Dr Garth Manning and Nongluck Suwisith from WONCA Secretariat for your continuous support and guidance. We look forward to work more closely with WONCA as we aspire to bring positive changes in the health of our people.

Photo: Dr Chhabi Lal Adhikari and colleagues from Bhutan are presented with their Academic membership certificate by Amanda Howe (WONCA President) at the recent WONCASAR conference in Nepal. (Chhabi is on Amanda’s right)