Thrilled to be back working and volunteering in Bhutan after a long COVID break. A small team from Interplast Australia and New Zealand went to Bhutan in June 2023, along with the CEO of Interplast, Cameron Glover.

It was a very intense and successful trip. We had seven Physiotherapists and Occupational therapists from the Districts who travelled far and wide to learn, and our two local hand therapists Tshering Dorji and Kinley Tshering leading the way.

Cameron Glover, Dr. Sonam Jamtsho (Training Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon) and myself (Suzanne Caragianis) had wonderful collaborative meetings with Her Excellency, Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Pemba Wangchuck, the Acting Secretary of Minister of Health and Dr. Mimi Lhamu who leads the New National Health Service. It’s an exciting time for Bhutan and represents a positive change for the National Health Services.

The notable outcomes include signing of the MOU, discussing the development of a new Reconstructive Service once Dr Sonam Jamtsho returns to Bhutan in February 2024, conducting a successful surgical program and hand therapy teaching program with my colleagues Megan Fitzgerald and Darcy O’Neil.

We now have a 5 year strategic plan with a closer collaboration between Interplast Australia and New Zealand and the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health also expressed gratitude to the direct funding of medical supplies, support and training by my Helping Hands in Bhutan program.

Again, a big thank you to Orfit who provided Orfit splinting material and to all my supporters and donors of 'Helping Hands in Bhutan', the charity via the Southern Adelaide Health Institute Inc – Bhutan Fund, that I established 10 years ago to provide training and supplies for our local hand therapy clinics and therapists.

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