1. Date and place
The Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia will be held in Paro, Bhutan, from 5 – 9 September 2022. The Inaugural Ceremony of the Regional Committee will be held at the Manjushri Hall of Paro College of Education, Paro, on Monday, 5 September 2022.
|Meeting||Date and time||Venue|
|Inaugural ceremony: Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia||5 September 2022|
0900–1100 hrs (Tentative)
*Please see invitation card for complete programme
|Manjushri Hall, Paro College of Education|
Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia
|5 September 2022|
1200–1700 hrs (Tentative)
6–9 September 2022
|Hotel Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront, Paro|
|Meeting of the Drafting Group on Resolutions||(Will be announced by Secretariat)||Hotel Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront, Paro|
The provisional Agenda and tentative Programme are given in Annexes 1 and 2.
The Letters of Credentials of Representatives, Alternates and Advisers as per the attached format (Annex 3), signed by the Minister of Health or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, should be sent to the Regional Office in advance, or must be hand delivered by the Representatives directly to the Director, Administration and Finance, WHO-SEARO, immediately upon arrival at the conference venue. The WHO Secretariat takes this opportunity to emphasize the importance of properly completed credentials, especially the correct designation of participants, and recommends consultation with the respective WHO Representative or the Regional Office in case any clarification is needed.
Representatives are requested to complete the “Registration Form” online (Annex 4). The link to access the online registration form is https://apps.searo.who.int/eRegistration
The official website for the Seventy-fifth Session of the Regional Committee is https://www.who.int/southeastasia/about/governance/regional-committee/seventy-fifth-session
4. Travel and transportation arrangements
4.1. How to reach Paro
The main international airport of the Kingdom of Bhutan is located in Paro. Drukair, or the Royal Bhutan Airlines (refer to Annex 5 for flight schedule), is the national airline of Bhutan with direct flights operating from Dhaka (Bangladesh), New Delhi, Kolkata (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand) and Singapore to Bhutan. Tashi Air Private Limited also operates in Bhutan.
The Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan, has made a block booking of flight seats with Drukair Corporation Limited, Paro, according to information provided in the online registration list. In case the travel agency faces an issue in getting the tickets issued by Druk Air, Mr Sangay Thinley at email@example.com, +97517288388, and Ms Ugyen Dema at firstname.lastname@example.org, +975 77151414, may be contacted. Please note that the tickets may have to be purchased in advance to avoid the last-minute rush.
4.2. Visas and Customs clearance
Only passengers with approval from the Department of Immigration and Ministry of Labour and Human Resources may enter Bhutan. The Ministry of Health will facilitate this clearance and participants must send the following by email to email@example.com at least three weeks prior to their travel date:
• Copy of the completed and signed visa application form: https://www.doi.gov.bt/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/visaapplication-form.pdf
• Passport copy (must be valid for at least six months from the date of departure from Bhutan)
• Electronic passport-size photo
Further guidelines will be communicated by the Ministry of Health upon receipt of your visa application.
Please refer to the Department of Revenue and Customs website: http://www.drc.gov.bt/ for necessary information related to Customs clearances.
4.3 Arrival in Paro and Transportation
On arrival at the Paro International Airport, Delegates will be facilitated with airport transfers that have been arranged by the Ministry of Health.
To facilitate identification of baggage on arrival at Paro International Airport, participants are requested to use the RC luggage tags that will be made available at the WHO offices in all countries of the South-East Asia Region, and at WHO headquarters.
Transport arrangements will be made for all official programmes and meetings scheduled during the Regional Committee sessions.
4.4 Travellers’ Cheques/ Credit Cards
Travellers’ cheques are not preferred in Bhutan. However, US dollars and other convertible currency can be exchanged at most banks and from authorized “money exchangers”. Major international credit cards, such as American Express, VISA and Mastercard, are accepted by most banks and hotels. For shopping purposes the Bhutanese currency, Ngultrum, is the most preferred option.
5. General information
Bhutan, or “Druk”, is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and the People’s Republic of China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the south to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the north. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy and its hereditary kings, revered by the people as the “Druk Gyalpo”, are known for propounding the unique national philosophy and governing principle of “Gross National Happiness” as an indicator of overall well-being of the people. With a population of about 770 000, this small kingdom is one of the greenest, cleanest and least polluted nations on earth.
5.2 Highlights of Paro district
Paro district is situated in the north-western part of the country. It is located at an altitude of 2250 metres above sea level. It covers a total area of 1293 sq. km. and has a population of 35 260. The country’s only international airport is located in Paro.
|Geographical location||27° 26’ 0” North 89° 25’ 0” East Languages|
|Languages||Dzongkha is the main language. English is also widely used, especially by the young. However, there are mainly other dialects spoken by people across different parts of the country.|
|Religion||Buddhism is the dominant religion.|
Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest)
Paro Takstang is known as Tiger’s Nest. It is one of Bhutan’s most iconic sites for both religious reasons and tourism. Paro Taktsang was built in 1692. The sacred structure lies at 3120m (10 240 ft) above sea level, perched on the edge of a cliff in the Upper Paro Valley. Legend has it that the Guru Padmasamabhava, one of the most venerated spiritual figures of Bhutan, flew from Tibet on the back of a mystical tigress and landed on the steep cliff to meditate in a cave. It is one of the 13 Takstang (caves) across the country in which the exalted Guru meditated.
Bhutan is known for its dzongs, or fortresses and palatial buildings featuring a unique architecture unique and essential to the country. Dzongs are the seat of temporal and religious authorities, and have been accorded the status of having “outstanding universal value” by the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO. Drukgyal Dzong means “Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa”. Located at Tsento Block, Paro district, Drukgyel Dzong was believed to have been built in 1646 by the spiritual leader and “unifier of modern Bhutan”, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to commemorate his victory over an invading force. In April 2016, to celebrate the birth of the Crown Prince of Bhutan, or “Gyalsey”, His Royal Highness Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, as well as to commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of the reverential Tibetan lama (or priest) Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in 1616, the dzong was restored and reinstated to its former glory under the personal supervision of the King of Bhutan His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk.
Rinpung Dzong (Fortress)
Rinpung Dzong is a large dzong/fortress of the Drukpa (Buddhist) Lineage of the Kagyu school in Paro District, Bhutan. It houses the district monastic body and government and administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. Rinpung Dzong literally means “Fortress on a heap of jewels”. It was built in 1644. Below the dzong is a traditional wooden bridge called Nyamai Zam.
National Museum of Bhutan in Paro was established in 1968, in the renovated ancient Ta-dzong building, above Rinpung Dzong, by the then King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the Third Druk Gyalpo. The necessary infrastructure was created to house some of the finest specimens of Bhutanese art, including masterpieces of bronze statues and paintings. Suitable galleries were constructed to house the extensive collections. Works of art are elegantly displayed on modern scientific lines.
5.3 Climate and clothing
With the onset of autumn, the average maximum daytime temperature falls to 16-20 °C. However, the nights can be relatively cool at 8 °C (46 degrees Fahrenheit). It is advisable to carry light woollens and warm clothing. The dress code for all five days of the Regional Committee Session is formal.
5.4 Currency and foreign exchange
The official national currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum (US$ 1 = Nu. 78.70, as of 24 July 2022). It is pegged at par with the Indian Rupee.
Foreign banknotes can be exchanged at any bank and authorized money changer. American Express, Mastercard and VISA are accepted in Bhutan but not all shops may be able to charge them.
Voltage is 220/230 volts AC at 50 hz. Most hotels have a combination of UK type-3 pins and the locally popular rounded 2- or 3-pin sockets. However, it is best to travel with a universal adaptor.
For identification and security purposes, participants are requested to wear their name badges while attending all meetings and receptions. Badges will be issued by the Secretariat at the time of registration or upon arrival at the hotel.
6. Medical arrangements
Emergency medical services will be available at the venues. A dedicated medical team will be stationed at the plenary venue 24×7 for delegates. Furthermore, a mobile medical van will be provided as backup for delegates needing medical assistance who are putting up at hotels other than the plenary venue.
6.2 High-altitude sickness
High-altitude sickness constitutes a spectrum of medical problems ranging from mild discomfort to serious illness that may occur on ascent to higher altitudes. It can affect anyone, including the most experienced and fit individual, upon ascending to more than 8000 feet. Hence, some participants may experience difficulties, especially since they may not get adequate time to acclimatize to the higher elevation.
Though there are various problems associated with high altitude, acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the mildest and commonest form of this condition. It usually begins within 4–6 hours after arrival to the high-altitude station. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, nausea and palpitations. There are certain strategies including medication which may be utilized to prevent AMS.
While anyone can develop altitude sickness, persons living with any of the following conditions should consult a physician prior to their travel as they may be more susceptible to problems: diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, asthma, bronchitis/emphysema, sleep disorders, migraine, sickle-cell disease, epilepsy, and obesity. Those who smoke or take tobacco products should also seek medical opinion before the travel.
6.3 COVID-19 travel protocols
Before commencing travel, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health, Bhutan, for the updated COVID-19 travel advisory for delegates of the Regional Committee Session: RC-75: COVID-19 Travel Advisory for 75th Regional Committee Delegates | Ministry of Health (moh.gov.bt).
6.4 Health insurance
It is recommended that all participants attending the Regional Committee Session have adequate international health insurance that is valid in Bhutan.
- ++ Room rates are exclusive of taxes
- Exchange rate as of 24 July 2022: US$ 1.00 = BTN 79.63
- Transportation will be provided to Delegates staying in the above hotels to and from the meeting venues.
- You may use the eRegistration link to book your preferred hotel: https://apps.searo.who.int/eRegistration
- Payments should be settled by participants directly to the hotel. Cash would be the preferred mode by the hoteliers, however, credit cards are accepted
8. Social events
|5 September 2022||Reception dinner hosted by the Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan||Please see invitation for exact time/venue|
|6 September 2022||Reception dinner hosted by the Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region||Please see invitation for exact time/venue|
Other official/social function(s), if any, will be published in the Daily Sessions Journal.
9. Accompanying spouses
Participants intending to bring their spouses to Bhutan are advised to arrange for appropriate visas and make their own travel arrangements.
Programme for spouses: For arranging sightseeing trips in and around Paro, interested spouses may kindly contact the Inquiry Desk at the hotel.
10. List of participants
A provisional list of participants will be circulated at the time of the meeting. Participants should bring to the attention of the SEARO Reports Officer, Mr Gautam Basu (firstname.lastname@example.org), any addition, deletion or changes so that the final List of Participants could be issued as early as possible.
11. Ministry of Health Liaison Officers
Liaison Officers from Ministry of Health, Bhutan (Annex 6) will be available at the venue of the meeting to facilitate the participation of country delegates, act as channels of communication between country participants and the WHO Secretariat, report any issues of concern to the Steering Committee, and facilitate attendance of respective representatives at meetings of the Drafting Group on Resolutions or other subcommittees.
12. Organizing Committees
The list of members of the Organizing committees is provided in Annex 7.
13. Contacts of WHO Offices
New Delhi, India
WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia
World Health House,
New Delhi – 110002, India
Working hours: Monday through Friday, 0800–1630 hours
WHO Country Office Bhutan
Ministry of Health Building,
Email: email@example.com +975 02 322864
Working hours: Monday through Friday, 0900–1730 hours
14. WHO publications
A catalogue of WHO publications will be on display at the document desk in the conference hall. If participants wish to obtain copy(ies) of any of the publication(s), they will be requested to provide their contact details. The Secretariat will arrange to send the requested publications to them.
15. Documentation/ Summary reports
In keeping with WHO environmental management policies, the WHO Regional Office has instituted measures to reduce the use of paper during its internal and Governing Body meetings. Document folders will thus not be distributed during the Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia. Instead, all participants are requested to access documents through the electronic media options (pen drives, weblinks, websites, etc.) provided by WHO. All participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptops or tablets with them to the Regional Committee Session.
A Documents Desk will be located outside the conference hall. The final Draft Summary Report of the Seventy-fifth Session will be distributed at the final session of the concluding plenary for consideration of the Regional Committee.
Daily Session Journal: An information bulletin called the “Daily Session Journal” will be issued every day from 5 September 2022. It will contain the programme for the next day and other general information of interest to participants. It would be accessible through the RC Mobile App and also displayed on electronic screens outside the main meeting hall at Le Meridien Paro.
- Annex 1: Provisional Agenda for the Seventy-fifth Session of the Regional Committee
- Annex 2: Tentative Programme of the Seventy-fifth Session of the Regional Committee
- Annex 3: Credentials
- Annex 4: Registration Form
- Annex 5: Travel to Paro, Bhutan
- Annex 6: Liaison Officers from the Ministry of Health, Bhutan
- Annex 7: Organizing committees
- Annex 8: Extract from the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations
- Annex 9: Bhutan Emergency Numbers
- Annex 10: Permanent Missions of the Royal Government of Bhutan in the South-East Asia Region and Geneva