Bhutan's Health Minister Dechen Wangmo is always on her toes and, most of the time, in sneakers
Bhutan's Health Minister Dechen Wangmo is always on her toes and, most of the time, in sneakers. With the new coronavirus keeping the minister busy since the outbreak in early January, Lyonpo Dechen has involved herself in every aspect of the response efforts the focal ministry has engaged in so far.
Although well aware and more prepared given the decades of experience in public health-related issues, the current situation has taken a toll on the minister.
At a closer look, behind her smile at press conferences and other public gatherings, there is a sleep-deprived swollen pair of eyes. Lyonpo feels most comfortable in sneakers as she runs from one office to another for meetings.
Walking the extra mile has been tiring for the mother of a child. The health of the country, as of now is more important than her family.
“I have a very good support system at home, which is my family,” she said when Kuensel asked how she is balancing work and family life. “Although I have little time to spend with my son, I have a bigger responsibility to shoulder. My son understands the need of the situation and that is what matters the most.”
A recent picture with her son on her Facebook status which stated, “With my current hectic late nights, blessed to have an evening with my sweetheart,” went viral with several hundred “likes” and followers appreciating the minister for her sacrifices.
“I wonder if he misses me,” she said when asked if she regrets not spending time with her son. “Every parent wants their children to miss them but like most children, he is a bit preoccupied with his own things,” she said.
However, Lyonpo said that her son knows that she is fighting Covid-19. “You do feel a bit guilty as a mother because you are not able to be with him. I try to make the most of it when I get a little time to be with him, but it has been a challenge for me as a mother. I hope things will change for the better.”
Sharing a personal moment, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said her son has been wanting to take her out for a dinner for some time now. “Because he has Nu 1,000, he was telling me he wants to take me out. I’m looking forward to that in one of these days.”
The health minister is preoccupied with preventing the spread of Covid-19. Within seconds, she brings the attention to the virus from her family.
Lyonpo said that given the changing nature of the epidemic, people must keep an open mind and be adaptive to the changes in decisions and actions the government would be taking until the situation improves.
“People must recognise that this disease that we are fighting is changing its course as we speak,” she said. “We have to plan accordingly. If people follow as per the directives, this would be one of the biggest benefits to all of us.”
She said that all decisions made are carefully studied and recommended by a group of experts at the ministry. “I spend my midnights reviewing every publication that is there. If we have to be ahead of the epidemic, then we have to make our plans based on science and evidence. There is a change and change we must adopt.”
Lyonpo said, “My request to the public is to trust health officials. This ministry will never make a judgment that is not logically driven based on evidence.”