Health Walk raises Nu 11.6M

About 2,000 volunteers participated in the walk to promote healthy lifestyle 

BHTF: The annual health walk in Thimphu yesterday collected about Nu 11.6  million (M) from Bhutanese and foreign donors towards the Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF), which supports in financing the supply of essential drugs and vaccines in the country.

Records with the BHTF show that the Bhutanese community donated about Nu 1.8M. Among the foreign donors, the Government of Turkey and the World Health Organization, South East Asia Region donated USD 50,000 each.

The Eco Cap Foundation, Japan donated Yen 5M and Helping Hands contributed USD 7,000.

More than 2,000 volunteers participated in the three-hour health walk, which Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck flagged off from the Royal Thimphu College in Nabirongchu.

The volunteers while creating awareness on healthy lifestyle to reduce non-communicable diseases, on an average also burnt about 1,500 calories when the walk flagged in at the Clock Tower Square, according to health officials.

Although the calorie burn rates would vary, health officials pointed out that such walks at least four times a week would be good enough to keep non-communicable diseases (NCD) at bay.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, who joined the volunteers in the walk, said the turn out was good and that the health walk, which is in its third year is picking pace annually.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk joins the 2,000 volunteers at the health walk, which concluded at the Clock Tower Square

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk joins the 2,000 volunteers at the health walk, which concluded at the Clock Tower Square

“Everyone is volunteering and more than the contribution, it’s the participation, which is more important,” lyonpo said. “By participating in the walk, they are not only creating awareness but also reducing NCDs, which will in turn reduce expense on medicines.”

The health walk, he said, is organized to create awareness on Bhutan Health Trust Fund, which was established in 2000 under the Royal Charter to ensure continued and timely supply of vaccines and essential drugs, which are crucial components of Primary Health Care.

“For the Bhutanese people, the most important thing that has been provided for by our visionary monarchs is free medicines and vaccines,” Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said. “Sixteen years after its establishment, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s vision is realized this year with the Bhutan Health Trust Fund launching the financing of essential drugs and vaccines, in commemoration of the 60th birth anniversary celebrations.”

Lyonpo said the trust fund belongs to the people of Bhutan and the health walk is to make people understand the importance of the trust fund and to give them ownership by requesting for donations.

The health ministry and the BHTF also awarded certificates to about 16 top donors including individuals and organizations within the country for their contribution in 2013-14 year.

The BHTF since its operationalization in 2003 has supported the procurement of vaccines including the nationwide introduction of Measles-Rubella vaccines. BHTF is co-financing the procurement of pentavalent vaccines with GAVI since 2009. BHTF will have to take up the full financing by 2015.

Since 2008 until 2013, the BTHF has financed the immunization of pentavalent vaccine for 79,261 children across the country.

Sonam Pelden

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