The weeklong blood donation drive and Non-Communication Diseases (NCDs) screening, held in Thimphu and for a day in all the other districts of the country a month back, were relevant given the contemporary times we live in.
The event, held in tandem with global commitment and aspiration to which Bhutan is signatory of addressing the threats of NCDs from 2013 to 2020, was a success if the 2,418 people who voluntarily came up for NCDs screening and 1,029 people donating blood were any indication.
However, there were also some startling revelations that should be reasons for concern. First, it’s the rate of NCDs that continue to be augmenting every year. About 336 people or 15 percent during the screening were found to be hypertensive, and 43 diagnosed diabetics.
Further, what could be precarious are the facts of several reports already claiming that at least 93 percent of Thimphu’s population are exposed to one of risk factors of NCDs, besides the latter still being the diseases that are creating a huge dent on the government exchequer.
Another revelation, subsequently more alarming, is the number of people living with HIV/AIDS. During the weeklong drive, a person was detected HIV positive and 17 were found to have sexually transmissible infections.
As these numbers were derived just from those people who had come for the NCDs screening that time, we could imagine what the actual figure is likely to be. The figure, therefore, is just the tip of the iceberg.
HIV/AIDS is, therefore, a major concern as we are not losing our close and dear ones, but also losing people in the most economically productive and reproductive age group (as per age group distribution of PLWHAs).
We may yet vie to have HIV diagnostic testing services available in all places across the country, but what is more wanting now is the awareness on safe sex practices or sex education. Unsafe sex is still the main cause of HIV/AIDS.
Rather considering it a taboo, it’s conceivable, besides the pivotal role of teachers and parents, a curriculum on sex education, where every child is taught that an unprotected sex can kill, will do much better.