Bhutan's unexpected triumph against COVID-19, with Minister of Health Dechen Wangmo (EP.21)
Civic RxMarch 04, 2021
49:4034.27 MB

Bhutan's unexpected triumph against COVID-19, with Minister of Health Dechen Wangmo (EP.21)

Nestled between India and China in the heart of the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan has long been known for its philosophy of Gross National Happiness, as a more holistic alternative to GDP. Over the last year, Bhutan has acquired yet another source of fascination and acclaim: its pandemic response. Even as countries the world over have struggled to contain the pandemic’s spread, Bhutan, somehow, has emerged relatively unscathed. Since March 2020, in the 12 months since the pandemic first struck, Bhutan has sustained just 1, a single, death from COVID-19.

Here to share this remarkable story is Bhutan’s Minister of Health, Her Excellency Dechen Wangmo, who since 2018 has served as the only woman in Bhutan’s cabinet. Minister Wangmo tells us today about her own journey, her vision and her hopes for the future of Bhutan. She also recounts how her country was able to mobilize so early, and effectively, against the threat of pandemic. We discuss what public health measures the country instituted and also how they were able to enlist the unmitigated trust and commitment of the public to these goals. 

It’s an interesting conversation, and I hope you enjoy it.

To learn more about what’s discussed:

Read more about Bhutan at the World Bank and World Health Organization websites

Follow Minister Wangmo on Twitter

Check out this feature in The Atlantic about Bhutan’s pandemic response 

To learn more about Civic Rx, visit

Quick dictionary:

ILI and ARI surveillance = influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute respiratory infection (ARI) surveillance, performed by many health facilities around the world to monitor virus activity and identify novel viruses, as part of the global influenza sentinel surveillance system

Abbot = in Buddhism, the administrator of a monastery or large Buddhist temple