“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” defines World Health Organization. The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combination of physical, mental, and social well-being, together sometimes referred to as the “health triangle”. “The WHO’s 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion further stated that health is not just a state, but also “a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living.”
After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people fled to India as refugees. While rehabilitating the refugees in the newly developing Tibetan settlement, some health care centers were set up by various non-governmental organizations. When these organizations handed over the administration of the health care projects to the respective settlements, there was a need to establish a department within the infrastructure of the Tibetan Administration to finance and manage these health care units as well as to plan a comprehensive health care system for the Tibetan in Exile. Health is a basic and elementary need for the general welfare and development of any community. Thus, recognizing the importance of maintaining the health status and well being of Tibetan refugee community, the Central Tibetan Administration formally established Department of Health in December 1981.
Presently, the Department of Health is one of the seven departments of Central Tibetan Administration. It is registered in the name of Tibetan Voluntary Health Association (TVHA) under the Indian Society Registration Act XXI 1860 and working as a registered charitable organization to look after the basic health care needs of Tibetan refugees. Through a network of 7 hospitals, 5 primary health centers and 36 clinics across India and Nepal. The operation and management of these hospitals and health centers are directly administered and funded by the Department of Health, including all recurring and non-recurring expenses ranging from staff salaries to health care services and programs.
As of now, the Department employs a total workforce of 198 staff members including 10 doctors, 50 nurses, 37 community health workers and other relevant staffs. Community health workers have been the backbone of the health service provided by Department of Health since last few decades. They have played an important role in filling the gap of shortage of medical staffs in the Tibetan refugee community. Each health staff working in Department of Health’s health centers perform multiple roles. Apart from acting as the health care provider to the local people, they also work as a social worker, counselor and health educator in their day to day routine, thus promoting the wellbeing of the entire Tibetan refugee community.
Aims & Objectives: an overview
The main objectives of the Department of Health are to provide a comprehensive health care to the Tibetan refugee population settled in various parts of India and Nepal. These include:
- To ensure adequate, preventive, promotive and curative health services based on both Modern allopathic and traditional Tibetan systems of medicine.
- To allow people to gain greater access to primary health care by providing convenient health services to the masses.
- To provide comprehensive maternal and child health care services, including social care and child protection services.
- To provide affordable quality healthcare services to all people (which also include the local Indian or Nepalese people).
- To make health care accessible to the poor and impoverished section of the society.
- To boost the preventive and promotive aspects of the health care by disseminating Health information and education programs.
- To provide hospital services at various levels.
- To support collaborative community health promotion initiatives.