About Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan, in the Himalayas of south-central Asia, is well known for its unique development philosophy. It measures Gross National Happiness (GNH), in which the progress of the country is guided by the well-being and happiness of its population. Bordered by China and India, Bhutan is also close to Nepal and Bangladesh. It holds a strategic location in the region, controlling several major mountain passes into the Himalayas. Ethnically, the population of 857,423 is 50 percent Ngalop; other groups include Nepali and Lhotshampas. Languages spoken include Dzongkha (the official language), Sharchokpa, and Lhotshamkha, as well as other foreign languages. The Bhutanese are predominantly Lamaistic Buddhist; there are also Indian and Nepali-influenced Hindus. As much as 43 percent of the population lives in urban areas, including about 200,000 in the capital of Thimphu.

Bhutan was historically a remote kingdom, isolated from the world by the vast mountains in which it is located. However, in the second half of the 20th century, the country became more connected to the global community. In the 1990s, Bhutan moved away from its status as an absolute monarchy, and in 2008 the country became a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Bhutan has since enjoyed economic stability and development, due in large part to its significant water resources and hydropower revenues. Overall, the country has made significant progress, reducing poverty from 36 percent of the population to 12 percent between 2007 and 2017. Bhutan’s GDP has increased about 7.5 percent annually since the early 1980s, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

In addition to boosting economic development, Bhutan has improved many of its healthcare indicators. Average life expectancy increased from 60 years in 1990 to 72 years in 2019. Nonetheless, non-communicable diseases have increased over time as leading causes of death. These include ischemic heart disease, COPD, stroke, cirrhosis, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Communicable diseases also contribute to deaths in Bhutan, including lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include malnutrition, air pollution, high blood pressure, dietary risks, high fasting plasma glucose, high body-mass index, tobacco use, occupational risks, high LDL levels, kidney dysfunction, and lack of sanitation and clean water.

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Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral (JDWNR) Hospital, Bhutan


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