Two new birds discovered

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Two new species of birds, the Oriental pratincole (Glareola maldivarum) and Desert wheatear (Oenanthe deserti) were discovered in Wangduephodrang and Punakha respectively on April 25..

Oriental pratincoleDesert wheatear-1

Autism – rapidly developing disability

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Autism, the fastest growing developmental disability

Autism, the fastest growing developmental disability

Although Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)  affects an estimated 1 in 160 people globally,  it is an often overlooked and misunderstood public health issue, regional director for WHO South-East Asia Region, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said at the international conference on autism and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), yesterday in Thimphu.

Stigma, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said is one of the reasons. “Part is fear and part is even the diverse symptoms of the disorder itself.” But the most dominant reason, she said, is the lack of awareness of what ASD is and how it can be managed.

“This applies as much to health systems and health care workers as it does to the general public,” she said.

Given ASD’s impact on individuals, families and communities, positive change is needed, both socially and systemically, she said.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay graced the inaugural session at the Convention Centre in Thimphu. The Gyaltsuen also launched the Guideline for Differently Abled Friendly Construction developed by the ministry of works and human settlement.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said autism and other special needs in Bhutan are gaining attention due to the gracious patronage of Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen who is also the Royal Patron of Ability Bhutan Society.

Lyonchoen said there is sympathy for autistic children. “But that is not what they need. More than sympathy, they need our love, understanding and support at all levels at home and in schools by teachers and classmates,” he said. “On the part of governments, we need the right polices which puts people at the centre of all development policies.”

In the age of innovations, speedy technological developments and miracle drugs, Lyonchoen said that the hope is on science to find answers to treat autism and NDDs.

“In the mean time, your hard work and dedication; your love and compassion; your generosity of spirit constitute effective treatment for the wellbeing of the people and their families living with autism spectrum disorder and neurological disorders,” Lyonchoen said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said it is encouraging to see many great clinicians, researchers and policy makers convened together for the betterment of individuals and families with ASD and NDDs. “No matter where on the spectrum they are, they all deserve to live in dignity and be loved by people around them,” she said.

Since its clinical recognition as a developmental disorder in 1944, ASD continues to be a significant health issue around the world today, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

“Based on studies conducted over the past 50 years, ASD can be termed as the fastest growing serious developmental disability,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said. “This warrants us to look at the core issues related to ASD comprehensively.”

Some 350 participants including senior government leaders, policy makers, experts and activists, among others from around the world attended the first day of the three-day conference. The theme of the conference is to develop effective and sustainable multi-sectorial programmes for individuals, families and communities living with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has brought together government leaders, policy makers, experts and activists from around the globe to spread awareness on autism.

“With Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen as the Patron of ABS and with Her Majesty’s leadership, we are confident that we can integrate and mainstream disability friendly environment in Bhutan,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that Bhutan’s collaboration with WHO on disability dates back to the late 90s when the country initiated the Community Based Rehabilitation Programme.

Lyonpo also acknowledged the contribution of Ms Siama Hossian, Chairperson of Shuchona Foundation in advancing the agenda of autism.

The health ministry, Bhutan and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh are hosting the conference with technical support from Shuchona Foundation, ABS, and the World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office. The conference ends tomorrow.

Dechen Tshomo

Yonphula reopens in May

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Yonphula domestic airport to reopen in May

After being closed for almost four years, the domestic airport at Yonphula in Trashigang is expected to reopen by May this year.

Taktshang tourists must pay entry fee

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Tourists visiting Taktshang must pay an entry fee of Nu 500.

To provide guided tour and maintain sacredness of Taktshang monastery, Dratshang Lhengtshog along with Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) introduced an entry fee of Nu 500 per person for tourists, starting March 1.

However many tourists are unaware of the fee system.

At Ramthangka, where the ticket counter is located, tour guides have to inform tourists about the entry fee and assist them to the ticket counter.

Otherwise, many who head to Taktshang without paying the fees have to return without getting an opportunity to visit the monastery.

The fee does not apply to Bhutanese visitors.

According to TCB, the fee system has been put in place to provide a better experience to the visitors and manage important places like Taktshang and its trekking routes.

“Tourist who pays US$ 65 will not have to pay the fee. Those who have to pay are the people who are here for business, to visit relatives, as an official guest and people who do not pay US$ 65 like Indian tourists, Bangladesh tourists and people from the Maldives’,” says the TCB’s Media Spokesperson, Damcho Rinzin.

He added that the students will have a discount of Nu 250 upon producing their student ID.

The tourist will receive guided tours of the monastery after reaching Taktshang.

The monastery remains open from 8 AM till 4 PM without lunch break.

Sangay Chezom, Paro
Mar 14 2017

Heavy snowfall in Bhutan

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Bhutan sees heaviest snow in more than a decade


People living in the western, central and northern regions of the country woke up to a thick blanket of snow on March 11. Some isolated places of eastern Bhutan also received snowfall.

Senior meteorologist, Tayba Buddha Tamang, said that the Department of Hydro Met Services had a good amount of precipitation across the country on March 11. “We have correctly predicted the event.”

Bhutan sees heaviest snowfalls

Gasa recorded 11.4 inches of fresh snow, the highest among the six dzongkhags that received snowfall on the day, followed by Haa at 8.7 inches.

Thimphu and Paro recorded 7 inches of snow each while Bumthang recorded 1.8 inches.

Trongsa had traces of snow while the rest of the country received moderate rainfall.