Palliative Care: The Emerging Field in Bhutan

Jessica Bay

Yangden Yangden

Nima Sherpa

Ambika Luitel

palliative care, cancer treatment, home care, end of life, noncommunicable diseases
CJON 2019, 23(1), 108-111. DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.108-111

The rise in noncommunicable diseases and initiation of cancer treatment in Bhutan, combined with a global recognition of the need for palliative care, led the country’s Ministry of Health to identify the need for palliative care. A team of nurses at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu were recruited to launch the country’s first homecare palliative program. The Bhutan Cancer Society contributed financially to this effort, and other nongovernment organizations and faculty at the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan School of Nursing contributed on the academia front.


  • Noncommunicable diseases have become the greatest health challenge in Bhutan.
  • Palliative care is particularly important for patients with cancer in Bhutan because of this population’s high mortality rate.
  • Challenges to palliative care development in Bhutan include a lack of equipped academic programs, a shortage of trained healthcare providers, and a lack of opioid availability.
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