Health ministry wins UN awards for SCCI against NCDs

The health ministry celebrates the UN award event in a simple event (Photo: MoH)

Health ministry will scale up SCCI in all 20 districts by the end of 2023



In recognition of Bhutan’s efforts in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Ministry of Health (MoH) won a UN award for its Service with Care and Compassion Initiative (SCCI).

The ‘2022 UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) and the WHO Special Program on Primary Health Care Award’ was virtually conferred to health minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo at the UN General Assembly side event on 21 September in New York, USA.

The award recognizes the successful implementation of the SCCI to prevent NCDs and deliver integrated people-centric primary care at the district level.

The initiative, launched in 2019 as a pilot project in Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha, and Zhemgang has been able to leverage and strengthen the existing healthcare delivery system. It was designed to take medical services to the people living with NCDs at their doorstep.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that the intervention is a shift in the paradigm in providing healthcare services. “It fosters community vitality, inclusiveness, empowerment of the patient, and most importantly, it has the element of human touch,” she said.

Lyonpo added that the SCCI has particularly been of immense benefit to terminal patients requiring palliative care and bed-bound patients. 

She said through the SCCI, outreach services including medicine refills, recall and reminders, and responsive referrals are provided at the doorstep for home-bound patients.

“The people-centered approach has promoted regular interface and improved experience towards receiving NCD care, particularly for terminal patients requiring palliative care and those residing in the remote communities of Bhutan,” Lyonpo added.

SCCI accelerates the achievement of targets of the government to improve the quality of life for people living with NCDs and other chronic diseases through timely diagnosis and NCD services.

In addition, it also facilitates the health workers to strengthen effective NCD management and provides guidance on enhancing staff efficiency through task shifting.

The significance of the initiative is also disability and elderly inclusive which are priority vulnerable populations for the health sector.

Further, to realize the global health goal of reducing premature mortality due to NCDs, the health ministry will scale up SCCI in all 20 districts by the end of 2023.

The initiative is expanded through a three-way partnership model with MoH, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, and district health authorities.

SCCI is essentially an adaptation of the WHO’s PEN-HEARTS technical package.

WHO Country Office for Bhutan commits to continue supporting MoH in its acceleration efforts of NCD prevention and control including resource mobilization and technical support.

WHO Bhutan Representative Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus said that NCDs including mental health burden is increasing worldwide. “The promotion of SCCI in the primary healthcare setting in Bhutan is an important initiative to ensure access and timely delivery of NCD services to the people,” he said.

Eighteen organizations were recognized in three categories – the ministries of health or government agencies under a ministry of health, ministries or government agencies beyond health, non-state actors – non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and philanthropy.

Seven nations, including neighboring India, were awarded under the of Health Ministry category, one under ministries beyond health and 10 under the non-state actors.