We had another very fruitful trip to Bhutan in April/May with a focus on continuing education. Susan Blackmore, eminent Hand Therapist from Philadelphia, USA came to teach and work along with Professor Jegan Krishnan and Anne Krishnan. We were a formidable team running our first course “Essentials in Hand and Upper Limb Rehabilitation” at the Osel Hotel in Thimphu (capital), over 2 days.
We had 49 participants who were very enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity to learn. We then preceded to Punakha where we ran the course to another group of 39 orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists, physio and ortho technicians.
We were very proud to have a 92% pass rate. One of our attendees wrote: “Thank you very much! With all of your support we would aspire for Bhutanese with healthier hands (which we are getting closer to our dreams every day) and this is all because of your dedicated effort to support us otherwise it would have been far fetched dream forever”. Of course, it was also due to the support from The Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan and Interplast Australia and New Zealand.
Our Interplast team was led by Dr Tim Proudman with our hard-working colleague Megan Fitzgerald guiding our local team in the Hand Therapy clinics in both Thimphu and in Mongar, in the far-east of Bhutan. Unfortunately, this year there seemed to be an increase in bear attacks, perhaps as human beings encroach on their habitat. We also treated a lot of children with birth deficits, effecting their hand function. It was just incredible to see how quickly the children start regaining their hand function once the bandages were removed!! We were fortunate again to have the support of Second Skin in Perth who kindly allowed us to order much needed pressure garments for our patient with severe head, neck and chest burns for a low cost.
Once again, I was generously hosted by His Excellency, Mr Tandin Dorji, the Minister of Health who discussed our program and training. Thank you for all our most generous colleagues, patients and friends who donated over $10,000.00 which allowed us to support one of our therapists to go to Bangkok to train and another to go to Nepal for training. In addition, we purchased over $5,000.00 for our hand therapy clinics in Bhutan.
I also gratefully acknowledge and thank my colleagues in Bhutan who honoured me with an award and citation for my contribution to hand therapy and rehabilitation in Bhutan. This was awarded on Founders Day in May 2018.