Bhutan, India, February 2005
Linda L. D'Antonio, PhD
Professor and Director of International Outreach
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Loma Linda University
In assessing the availability of speech services in Bhutan, we learned through research and personal contacts that there is no discipline of speech-language pathology nor are there any speech pathologists available in Bhutan. Additionally there did not appear to be any allied health professionals or paraprofessionals who were providing such services. Next we assessed the need for services by interviewing patients and/or parents of children with cleft lip/palate.
Finally, we met with officials from the Ministry of Health to learn about the Ministry's awareness of and view of communication impairment in general and associated with cleft palate in particular.
A formal plan was developed for establishing speech and language services in Bhutan that would be available not only for children with cleft palate but that would in turn be available for other individuals with communication impairment.
Following is a summary of the report:
Our inquiries about speech and hearing services led us to Bhutan's only school for the deaf. It is a model program designed and directed by a teacher who had no formal previous training in deaf education but saw the need and rose to the challenge with great success.
The King was educated in India and England. He has emphasized modernization of education, health services, rural development and communication but stresses that development should not affront beliefs or the environment. All volunteer development plans are scrutinized carefully by the government.