Vocational Training Team(VTT) to Bhutan
Thanks to the generous support of the Rotary Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of Gawler & Thimphu, Interplast has been able to deliver a successful
two-week surgical and hand therapy clinical and training program in Thimphu, Bhutan. Through this visit, many lives have been changed through the
delivery of reconstructive surgical services and associated allied health support, and local doctors, nurses and hand therapists in Bhutan have received
crucial training in these areas. Interplast is grateful for the support of both the Rotary Foundation & the Rotary Clubs of Gawler & Thimphu with this
program, and looks forward to continuing this partnership to change futures across the Asia Pacific region.

THE Rotary FOUNDATION & Club of Gawler - changing futures in Bhutan with Interplast
Background to Interplast's programs in Bhutan
For over 30 years Interplast has been sending fully qualified Australian and New Zealand volunteer
plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals to 25 countries
in the Asia Pacific region. Volunteers provide free reconstructive surgery for those who would otherwise
not be able to afford these services, significantly improving the quality of life for people who are disabled
as a result of congenital or acquired medical conditions including cleft lip and palate, burn scar
contracture wounds, tumors, and growths. Interplast also has a strong focus on training, mentoring and
building the surgical capacity of in-country medical personnel.
Since carrying out a needs assessment in August 2014 (following requests from local Bhutanese partners
to provide support in plastic and reconstructive surgery), Interplast has continued the work originally
started by Australian volunteers, Ms Suzanne Caragianis and Dr Philip Griffin who had been undertaking
volunteer programs in hand surgery and hand therapy to Bhutan for several years beforehand.
To assist in developing local plastic surgery capacity, Interplast started working with the Jigme Dorji
Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the Ministry of Health and the Khesar Gyalpo University
of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) to establish a Memorandum of Understanding, to formalise the
partnership and plans for programs and activities moving forward, which commenced with the first
combined plastic and reconstructive surgery and hand therapy mentoring activity in May 2015. The MoU
was finalised and signed by all parties in April 2017.
Thanks to the generous funding provided by the Rotary Foundation & the Rotary Clubs of Gawler & Thimphu, Interplast implemented a plastic &
reconstructive surgery and hand therapy mentoring activity from 16 October – 3 November 2017. This was the sixth visit by an Interplast surgical
team and followed on from the previous visit in April 2017.
The team was based at the JDWNRH in Thimphu throughout this period. The aim of this visit was to consolidate the efforts of previous teaching
programs and to continue to teach reconstructive surgery techniques to the surgeons and related staff, as well as mentor and teach local and regional
physiotherapists and physiotherapy technicians in hand therapy.
The majority of the team departed Bhutan on the 26th of October, however, Ms Svens (hand therapist) stayed on until the 2nd of November to see
and treat hand therapy patients for postoperative care and deliver additional training.
The October 2017 Interplast volunteer team to Bhutan consisted of the following members:
• Dr Tim Proudman (Plastic surgeon & Team Leader)
• Dr Mark Moore (Plastic surgeon)
• Dr Matthew Grills (Anaesthetist)
• Ms Vanessa Dittmar (Nurse)
• Ms Amanda McFall (Nurse)
• Ms Birgit Svens (Hand Therapist)
• Mr Darcy O’Neil (Hand Therapist)
The team as a whole had extensive prior experience with Interplast and in Bhutan. Together this combination of skills and experience helped deliver a
successful program. The entire team was Adelaide based.

The Interplast team (bar Darcy) on arrival in Paro