Thunder Dragon rules over the Pandemic

A small South Asian land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan, is a landlocked country between two giant global powers i.e. China and India. China was the mother place of this Novel Coronavirus whereas the latter recorded the world’s second-highest number of positive cases after the USA. Despite sharing such proximities with India and China, Bhutan has set an ideal before the world with not only the least number of cases confirmed but also associated deaths. Experts believe that it has become possible because his Majesty king has played a very significant role in the development of the health infrastructure of the country. Decades before they introduced a Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and ensured that every child and adult citizen must be vaccinated. Economically starving nation dealings with the COVID pandemic has even shocked the major players of the World Economy. The credit goes to Bhutan’s External Preparedness and Response system. WHO too assisted the country in early detection, test, tracing and the isolation of the positive cases.

Image source: The Atlantic

The officials from all the different fields like armed forces, customs, police, civil aviation, health officials and the members of the national service volunteer group DESUNNG- brainstormed and performed their role at the optimal level according to a hypothetical situation of arrivals of the positive cases from foreign countries in the near future. The government also developed the contact tracing app known as DRUK TRACE. It became mandatory for all business organisations, transportation hubs and offices to scan the QR code generated by the tracing app. The Health Ministry of Bhutan also started a prevention initiative known as “GYENKHU” i.e. Our Responsibility, starring influencers like actors, sports personalities, bloggers and visual artists etc. The Queen Mother of the country addressed the nation very frankly, ensuring the citizenry and calling on the authorities for the best quality of sexual and reproductive health, child healthcare, maternal, newborn and the services to the gender-based violence etc. She proclaimed all these as “essential “services. According to the reports of WHO- the early simulation has contributed to the country’s success in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic with zero number of recorded deaths, less than 500 confirmed cases. Zero infection among the health workers and a very high recovery rate even though the country is nestled between India and China.

Bhutan has been the first country which replaced the GDP with GNH (Gross National Happiness) which balances economic development and cultural values. Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs has stated in an interview that Bhutan tackled the pandemic in a much better way than the USA. The latter has far more resources than the former, but the only point where the Capitalists lacked is the negligence towards the public health, focus on prevention which Bhutan and other co-low income countries worked quite cohesively in fighting with this pandemic.

Image source: The Star

With the adoption of the One Health Strategy, Bhutan has placed itself at a place from where much of the world can learn. The 800,000 people of Bhutan are enjoying the benefits of the Constitutional Monarchy, with the full support of the King to the scientific experts- intellectually, operationally and politically to garner the support and strength of his people. Bhutan’s performance during disease emergency has been a lesson to the world. It has proved beyond doubt that economy, resources, services, GDP etc. are not the guarantors of life. The loss of millions of lives in 2020 is the need of the hour to be viewed from the specs of Health infrastructure. Rest Thunder Dragon defeated the Chinese Dragon.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Medha Bhardwaj

Medha Bhardwaj is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti. She's also a PhD candidate for Russian and Central Asian states at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and holds a Master degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Delhi.

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