Bhutan suffers from a shortage of medical personnel with only 65% of the population having access to any form of medical care. In 1990, there were 141 doctors (113,110 people per physician), 5 pharmacists, 9 dentists, 233 nurses, and 70 midwives. In 1995 there were an estimated 0.2 physicians, 0.4 nurses, and 0.6 midwives per 1,000 people.
The average life expectancy in 1999 was only 52.8 years (52.3 years for females and 53.2 years for males) and the overall death rate was 14.3 per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate was 109 per 1,000 live births. In 1994, 38% of children under five were underweight. In 1993, it was estimated that 2% of married women (15–49 years) were using contraception. The fertility rate was reported as 5.2 per woman in 1999.
Immunization rates between 1990 and 1992 for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 81%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 79%; polio, 77%; and measles, 82%. Although smallpox has been wiped out, malaria, tuberculosis, and venereal disease remain widespread. Bhutanese refugees in the eastern Nepal region have high rates of measles, cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea, beriberi, and scurvy. There were 25 new cases of cholera in this country in 1994.