Health Minister outlines strategies to stimulate population growth

All the ministries, agencies, the corporate sector, and the private sector should equally take the responsibility to stimulate population growth, according to the minister

During the question-answer session of the National Assembly yesterday, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said there are no specific policies to stimulate population growth in the country as of now though various strategies have been put forward to address the issue.

Lyonpo said all the ministries, agencies, the corporate sector, and the private sector should equally take the responsibility as it is a nationwide concern.

“Natural population growth rate is 3.9% in 1994, while in 2017 it has dropped to 0.88%. It is a concern where a national level policy is needed as the government came up with various plans and strategies, but somehow it didn’t make any effect on stimulating the population growth,” Lyonpo said.

Meanwhile, the minister was quizzed by MP Dupthob from the Bomdeling –Jamkhar constituency in Trashiyangtse regarding the measures taken by the health ministry to stimulate the population growth rate in the country.

According to the minister, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has planned Accelerating Mother and Child Health (AMCH) policy, which will help in stimulating the population growth. The policy plans not only include an incentive for the child and mother but also include other facilities for the mother and child.

The ministry has also introduced Antenatal Care (ANC) and Postnatal Care (PNC), which are very important in tracking the health of mothers and children.

“Today the uptake of ANC and PNC is very high,” said Lyonpo.

According to the minister, Integral Cardiotocography (ICTG) is also introduced to easily monitor the health condition of an expectant mother and it also helps in screening high-risk pregnancies to give timely care.

“With the help of this technology, it can easily be monitored from the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) with gynecological services, the services available in the 44 remote BHUs in the country,” the minister said.

Lyonpo also added that the disability screening tool is introduced for a newborn child where records are kept in the child’s handbook for a proper and healthy reference.

For instance, the minister said, cognitive and physical fitness is also important in stimulating the population so as to have healthy health.

“For the micronutrient deficiencies in the country, the ministry has introduced sprinkle project in 2020 to address this issue,” Lyonpo said, adding that the sprinkle project was introduced in all the districts in the country to give a balanced nutritious diet.

The minister said the ministry is not only focusing on giving medical allowance to children and mothers, but the ministry is also focusing on giving facilities to children and mothers.

The facility includes an infertility clinic where the services are mainly for those couples with infertility problems so that they can take counselling services. The intrauterine insemination (IUI) services are also introduced at the JDWNRH.

As a way forward, the minister said a dedicated infertility clinic at the Multi-Disciplinary Super-Speciality (MDSS) at the JDWNRH is in the process to establish treatment services and training.

According to the minister, maternity leave is also initiated by the ministry where the services are mostly availed by those in the government sector and even some in the private sector.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu