Health is important. For a nation like ours where health services are provided free, sustainability is the problem.

Where do the funds come from? That is what we need to understand. We need to build our own coffers.

When Move for Health was first introduced, many thought it was a political campaign. But it was a visionary idea. Here our health system is where it is because of the Move for Health programme.

As an aid dependent country, providing free health services is a challenge. That’s why efforts to accumulate funds must be understood in the right context.

Health Special Lottery is at the centre of the talk this day. Nu 27 million worth of lottery has been sold. There are those who think that this amount is for one individual to lord on.

Clarity is thus important.

It is for nation and its people that this initiative is being taken. Otherwise providing free health services will be impossible. Bhutanese who are not affluent enough will suffer because they will not be able to pay.

The nation spends millions of ngultrums for essential drugs and vaccines every year. That’s why building the fund is critically important. We spent Nu 192 million to procure essential drugs and vaccines in the financial year 2017-18. Our contribution to the trust fund is miniscule going by the services that we get from our health centres. Today, the cut from the salary of working Bhutanese population is just Nu 190M annually. Some might think this is enough. It is not.

For Bhutan, to be able to provide free health services, we need to build even bigger funds. We need to look at sustainability of it all. We have Nu 1.79 billion in the fund today although we aimed for Nu 3 billion. With population growth and changing times, we will require more funds in the future. That is why fund-building strategies should be worked out in a way that is sensible. Contributions are coming in from abroad too.

Providing sustained primary health care will be a challenge otherwise.