Training Bhutanese Public Health Workers
The Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) is the only health-training institute in Bhutan and has recently started a Bachelors of Public Health program to train health workers. To assist RIHS with capacity building of faculty and public health research, the Bhutan Foundation has partnered with the Yale School of Public Health to facilitate faculty and student exchanges.
In addition, this program supports the collaboration of students and faculty from Yale to work jointly with RIHS students and faculty on public health related research in Bhutan.
The partnership has included summer research projects by two Yale MPH students—Nicole West in 2012 and Wan Nurul Naszeerah in 2014 who both conducted malaria-related research under the mentorship of Dr. Sunil Parikh, assistant professor of microbial and infectious diseases at the Yale School of Public Health.
The next phase of this partnership is to build health research capacity in Bhutan. In November 2014, Dr. Khoshnood participated in the first ever National Health Research Mapping and Priority Setting Workshop in Thimphu, Bhutan.
The public health program is a relatively new initiative at the RIHS. Those that come to Yale as trainees spend a semester at the Yale School of Public Health taking classes with the aim of expanding their teaching skills and working on independent research with Yale scientists. For example, one trainee has focused on GIS since no one in their school has that expertise and it could quickly have a profound influence on the country’s surveillance efforts.
Many opportunities exist for YSPH students to do internship work in Bhutan. RIHS is expanding its mission to include research. There are a number of health organizations with the capacity and expertise to host interns, as well as alumni connections.
As the country expands its public health mission to include research, Yale scientists have, and continue to, help shape a research agenda and inventory of assets. There are many opportunities for international collaboration in infectious, chronic diseases and injuries, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes, accident prevention, etc…