Grant: Marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, the government and people of Japan gifted 29 ambulances worth about Nu 124.7 million to the Bhutanese people yesterday.

Japanese ambassador to Bhutan Kenji Hiramatsu handed over the ambulances to the health minister Tandin Wangchuk yesterday in a simple ceremony.

Japan has given 55 ambulances, including the present lot, to the health ministry in two phases under its grant assistance in the past five years. The new fleet takes the number of ambulances in the country to 110.

The new Toyata landcruisers are best fit for the road conditions in the country, officials said.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said the Japanese support has resulted in immense impact on the lives of the Bhutanese populace. “Our relationship is based on the principles of trust, mutual understanding, cooperation and respect for each other,” he said.

Over the years Japanese assistance increased to sectors such as agriculture, education, roads, telecommunication, health, energy and irrigation systems.

“The government of Japan continues to play a major role in driving the socio-economic development of the country,” he said.

Japan supported the immunisation, maternal and child health, ambulatory care and other services.

With the ambulances, the ministry’s difficulties in delivering timely services could be eased.

Expressing gratitude on behalf of the people and the country, Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said there are other areas that Bhutan still need support  like in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Computer Technology (CT) Scan.

The country is still confronted with emerging and re-emerging of diseases, un-ceasing demand for quality service, frequent occurrence of disasters, rapid globalisation, advancement in technologies and environment degradation, he said.

Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said Bhutan could learn from Japan, which has overcome all these challenges.

“We look forward to government and people of Japan for their goodwill and support in enhancing diagnostic services such as CT Scan and MRI for the referral hospitals.”

Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said, “Japan is determined to provide as much support as possible for the development of Bhutan.”

“I promise that our commitment will remain unchanged.”

The first diplomatic relations began from March 28, 1986.

Tshering Palden