Nu 27M worth of lottery tickets sold for health trust fund

The draw will be held at the Clock Tower Square on February 5

Since November 1 last year, about 90,000 move for health special lottery tickets worth Nu 27 million (M) were sold as of yesterday.

Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF) organised the move for health special lottery in collaboration with Bhutan Lottery Limited and printed a total of 300,000 tickets (15,000 booklets). A ticket costs Nu 300.

BHTF’s director Dr Sonam Phuntsho (PhD) said the sale figure may change, as the office is yet to receive details from some dzongkhags.

Besides promoting BHTF to the masses, Dr Sonam Phuntsho said the lottery is a good strategy to raise fund for the trust.

“Lottery buyers will feel a sense of ownership since the earnings from the lottery will go to the BHTF, which would be used to sustain the provision of essential drugs and vaccines,” he said. “The buyers also have something to look forward to.”

The lottery was distributed to ministries, dzongkhags, lottery agents and other agencies for sale. “We appreciate all the agencies and its staff for their support to sell the lottery tickets,” he added.

The lottery draw will be held and results announced at the Clock Tower Square during an event to commemorate Move for Health Walk on February 5 noon. Lottery tickets will also be available for sale at the event until 11:30am.

“We want to ensure that lottery ticket buyers get at least the first, second and third prizes,” he said. “We will list out the numbers of unsold tickets.”

Dr Sonam Phuntsho said the commemoration of Move for Health Walk will be another milestone in the history of BHTF.

BHTF plans to announce the doubling of the BHTF capital fund during the event.

The initial capital fund target was set at USD 24M based on the projections in the late 1990s. Besides contribution from the government and other donors, the health trust fund’s other source is the health contribution of one percent levied on all salaried employees, which amounts to about Nu 190M annually.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, during an event to commemorate the Move for Health Walk on October 1, 2016, said the health trust fund will be doubled from Nu 1.5 billion (B) to Nu 3B in the next two years.

The fund stands at Nu 1.79B as of December last year and BHTF’s target is revised to Nu 3B.

“We have been working towards achieving this new target,” Dr Sonam Phuntsho said. Once the target is achieved, we will have a new target. Having a steady source to finance vaccines and essential drugs will help sustain primary health care for all times to come.”

Dr Sonam Phuntsho said that the Prime Minister’s pledge will be fulfilled. BHTF received a grant of Nu 650M from Asian Development Bank and an endowment of Nu 500M from the government. It is expected to receive returns of Nu 150M from its investments.

The government of Bangladesh committed to supply 258 essential drugs worth about Nu 150M (based on 2017 rates) from September this year.

Besides committing to donate a total of USD 50,000 to the BHTF this year, Korea Bhutan Friendship Association also committed to donate 185 essential drugs out of the list provided by BHTF in 2019.

According to the 2016 National Essential Medicines list, there are 543 essential drugs. Of the total, 429 are allopathic and the rest are traditional medicines.

BHTF has spent more than Nu 700M on essential drugs and vaccines since 2003. A total of Nu 192M has been spent to procure essential drugs and vaccines in the 2017-18 financial year.

Manufacturers of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutanese importers, suppliers, manufacturers, and health and medical professionals will participate in a three-day Medical Expo that will open on February 5 at the Clock Tower Square.

Dechen Tshomo      

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