For more than 15 years, HCP has partnered with the Royal Government of Bhutan to develop a comprehensive eye care system for the nation of more 750,000.
In 2015, HCP signed its fourth 5-year agreement with the Royal Government of Bhutan, ensuring collaboration with regards to the provision of primary eye care in the years to come.
In the last 15 years, all eight of the country's sub-specialists and dozens of paramedical staff have received specialized training; more than 22,000 sight-restoring eye surgeries were provided through hospital-based services and outreach campaigns and more than 665,000 students examined for loss of vision through the national School Health Program.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in adult population in Bhutan. The prevalence of blindness due to cataract in 50 years and above is 1.72%. This is significantly higher than in other parts of the Himalayan region or neighboring countries. Due to difficult geographical terrain, many cataract patients cannot reach the hospital based surgical services, so mobile cataract campaigns are the best option for reducing blindness due to cataract. Annually, an average of 30 eye campaigns are conducted across the country where surgical services, specialist consultation, refraction and optical services are provided.
In addition to financial support for the country’s outreach efforts, HCP affiliated ophthalmologists provide ongoing mentorship to its sub-specialists. Most notable are Dr. Bhim Rai, Bhutan’s first retina surgeon, and Dr. Dechen Wangmo, the country’s first and only pediatric ophthalmologist. Since 2008, HCP has also supported international training opportunities for 28 ophthalmic personnel, including sub-specialty day participation at the 2016 AAO Conference in Chicago for Drs. Deki and Dechen Wangmo. HCP is continuing to support both comprehensive and subspecialty eye care development as the country launches its first ophthalmology residency program.