Staff Reporter 

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo has been awarded the Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health (AYAPH) Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of her leadership in limiting the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The award recognizes the contributions and achievements of the US-based Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) alumni who have had distinguished careers in public health, according to an article published on the YSPH website.

The article states the health minister has earned international recognition for her leadership in limiting the spread of Covid-19 in Bhutan.

“As described by those who nominated her, Her Excellency is a wise and inspiring advocate for social and health policy in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Recently, as Minister of Health, she has led Bhutan during the SARS-Covid-19 pandemic and was instrumental in Bhutan having achieved one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,” said Ann Prestipino, Chair of the AYAPH Awards Committee.

Following her return to Bhutan after obtaining a Master’s in Public Health in global health epidemiology in 2007, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo became “a tireless advocate for people with health challenges.”

She was a founding member of Lhak-Sam, a civil society organisation dedicated to helping people living with HIV-AIDS, and also founded the Bhutan Cancer Society in support of cancer patients and their caregivers.

She is currently working to improve maternal and infant health across Bhutan, according to the website.

In a rare coincidence, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo was not the only member of her family to be honoured by Yale this year. Her brother, Dechen Dorji, was awarded the Yale School of the Environment’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to the fields of conservation, environmental science, and management.

Dechen Dorji is the founding director of the country’s Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental and Research, and led the Bhutan for Life initiative, which raised more than USD 40 million to finance the protection of the country’s pristine network of protected areas.

Edited by Tshering Palden