Sonam Chukey 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) donated medical equipment and vehicles worth Nu 39.446M to the health ministry in Thimphu yesterday.

In a simple ceremony, the ADB’s Country Director Kanokpan Lao-Araya handed over two refrigerated vaccine vans, 13 X-ray machines and other equipment to the Health Minister Dechen Wangmo.

The two refrigerated vaccine vans worth Nu 9.7 million (M) will be given to Mongar Referral Hospital and Gelephu Referral Hospital.

The ministry will also distribute the 182 Ice Lined Refrigerators (ILR) and four ILR Solar Direct Drive (SDD) together worth Nu 20.58M to all grade II Basic Health Units across the country. The four ILD SDD which run on solar power will be issued to BHUs in Gasa, Zhemgang, and Thimphu.

The refrigerated vans will be used to transport vaccines from regional cold stores to various dzongkhags to ensure vaccine potency through maintenance of temperature.

The 13 X-ray machines worth Nu 9.096M are distributed to 10-bed or grade I BHUs in Dagana, Mongar, Samdrupjongkhar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa and Zhemgang. Four BHUs in Trashigang will get an X-ray machine each.

According to the health ministry, the X-ray machine is provided to far-flung places so that the poor need not travel for days for an X-ray which would help reduce poverty.

According to the ministry, frequent breakdowns of some of the old equipment installed in some health centres disrupt service delivery.

“This equipment is just a part of a bigger plan under the ADB ongoing project aiming to strengthen Bhutan’s Health sector,” said Kanokpan Lao-Araya.

The ADB project was signed in November 2018 and will be completed on August 31, 2023.

The ADB provided a grant of USD 20M for health sector development programme.