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Bhutan Health Trust Fund capital doubled

Following rising costs of essential drugs and introduction of new immunization vaccines in the country, the government decided to double the current Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF) capital from Nu 1.5bn to Nu 3bn, presented Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay during the State of The Nation report on Monday.

The new Trust Fund capital translates to approximately US$ 45mn.

Lyonchhen said that huge expenditure is incurred in procuring drugs and vaccines and requires a capital fund of Nu 3bn to fully finance the procurement.

“It was within this context that the government decided to double the current BHTF capital,” he said.

This year, the government will be providing Nu 500mn to help the Trust Fund.

The current fund capital with the BHTF stands at Nu 1.53bn with a return rate of 7.5-10% per annum. The fund is currently invested in fixed deposits, short-term deposits, bonds, insurance schemes and savings account.

“I am very happy to report that Bhutan Health Trust Fund is functioning well. All essential drugs and most vaccines are provided by proceeds of Bhutan Health Trust Fund,” said Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay.

According to the report, BHTF also took over the full financing of Pentavalent vaccines which costs Nu 6mn. This was considered a significant achievement for BHTF and Bhutan as BHTF has been co-financing the vaccines with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization till 2014 and 2015 financial year (FY).

As for the current 2016-17 FY, BHTF has successfully released Nu 6mn to the Department of Public Health under Ministry of Health.

The Health Trust Fund raised an amount of about Nu 7.33mn as donation from various organizations, individuals, and well-wishers during the Annual Health Walk 2016 in Thimphu. Furthermore, BHTF also received about Nu 1.44mn from individuals and organizations in the dzongkhags till date.

The State of The Nation reports on strides made in the health sector such as the dropping of stunting prevalence from 33.5% to 21.2% according to the National Nutrition Survey 2015. Regional disparities remain persistently elevated with 29.1% prevalence rate in the eastern region followed by 18.5% and 16.2% in the central and west respectively. Further, stunting rate is higher in rural areas with 26.1% than in urban areas (16%).

Further, the government has budgeted Nu 20mn in the 2017-18 FY to purchase approximately 7,331.25MT fortified rice. In addition, the World Food Program is also supplying 1,890MT of fortified rice.

Among major health highlights, a total of 109 patients with emergency conditions have been airlifted to Thimphu till date.

Lucky Wangmo from Thimphu

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