5th International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences begins

The three-day International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences (ICMHS) themed “Mental Health Matters: Everyone’s Responsibility” started yesterday in Thimphu.

The conference would offer a platform for the national health professionals and international experts to share their knowledge and experience on mental health issues.

It would also create awareness and discussion on challenges and opportunities and come up with the solutions and recommendations.

President, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), Dr Kinzang P. Tshering said no family, age or profession are spared and all are stressed out due to the complexities of life. He said that suicide, alcohol addiction, depression, and substance abuse are emerging public health issues in the country.

“As human beings, our alternative want is happiness and without mental health we cannot get peace,” added.

Dr. Nazneen Anwar, Regional Advisor, Mental Health, Regional Office for South-East Asia, World Health Organization said throughout the region and globally, mental health funding and its engagement is very negligible, less than the 1% of the total government health budget.

Additionally she said, more than 450mn people are suffering from mental, neurological and substance abuse in the world.

Moreover, 90% of the people those who require treatment do not receive it, resulting in huge treatment gap.

However, global change is now coming in integrating mental health services with Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to deliver services, said Dr. Nazneen Anwar.

“Mental health is not just clinical or policy matter for practitioners and policy makers, it is an emerging and key social issue that affects the growing number of individuals and families,” said Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo.

Additionally, Lyonpo said public health awareness on mental health is limited and challenging because it is in the process of prioritization in global agenda.

Moreover, Lyonpo said NCDs accounts to 69% of all deaths in Bhutan leading to high cost treatment. 

“Expenditure in health services has almost doubled in last five to ten years in the country and it is a moment of reflection for the health system to decide where to go or where it wants to go,” said Lyonpo.

Lyonpo also reflected on youth’s addiction to alcohol and substance abuse, as although they are rehabilitated in the hospitals there is no reintegration and screening program for them to become productive citizens.

Today, there will be discussion on emerging mental health issues and health system approach towards promoting mental health.

The conference also discusses on complementary and alternative medicine, understanding mental health issues in mother and child among others.

The Bhutan Health Journal Conference Abstract booklet was also launched.

The conference is organized by Medical Education Centre for Research, Innovation and Training (MECRIT) and KGUMSB with funding support from United Nations Children’s Fund Bhutan.

The ICHMS started in 2015.

pic courtesy: facebook

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu