… Bhutan commits to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child 

Staff Reporter

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) marked its 75th anniversary on December 9.

Congratulating UNICEF on its 75th Anniversary and for giving every child a fair chance in life, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that as a champion for the rights and wellbeing of children, UNICEF in the last 75 years has helped nurture, shape and change, the lives of children around the world and in Bhutan.

“The story of UNICEF is a story of our children,” said Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, who is also the Vice-Chair of the National Commission for Women and Children.

“UNICEF has been in Bhutan for the last 47 years. Over the four decades, UNICEF has worked closely with the Royal Government of Bhutan to ensure that every child and young person are safe, protected and healthy.”

The minister reiterated Bhutan’s commitment to uphold all provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as UNICEF marked its 75th Anniversary.

Lyonpo assured that the government is prepared to commit efforts and resources in addressing the existing challenges and turning them into opportunities through innovative interventions in collaboration with developmental partners.

“We want to tell our children and young people that their wellbeing and happiness is a national priority for the Royal Government of Bhutan,” the minister said.

In the past four decades, Bhutan’s progress in the health sector propelled setting records in improving the health of the society in general and children and women in particular, enjoying better rights and sanitation, among others.

While Bhutan had the will and the courage to implement ambitious plans, UNICEF assisted with the resources to realise the mission of the resource-constrained country.

UNICEF’s work in Bhutan started in 1974 with support to the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme and expanded to improve the lives of children, youth and women in other key programmatic areas.

Bhutan was among the first few countries to ratify the Convention in 1990. In 1991, Bhutan became one of the world’s 10 poorer countries to immunise over 80 percent of its children from just 27 percent in 1985.

Bhutan has witnessed a two-thirds reduction in maternal deaths from 255 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 86 per 100,000 in 2012.

In 2014, after concerted efforts by governments, UNICEF, WHO and other partners, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka were all declared polio-free.

When the world reeled under the Covid-19 pandemic, UNICEF helped Bhutan bring home the Covid-19 vaccines and in its efforts to achieve an impressive vaccination coverage of the eligible population for two rounds.

The education ministry assisted by UNICEF, distributed self-instruction materials to 32,135 students in the most remote corners of the country to ensure children continue to learn while the schools remained closed in 2020.  Around 9,188 preschoolers accessed home-based early learning programmes and 27,404 children availed remote counselling and psychosocial support.

To celebrate World Children’s Day last year and to mark 30 years of Bhutan signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, His Holiness the Je Khenpo issued a decree calling on all to ensure the wellbeing of the children for all times to come.

“Bhutan’s efforts towards children’s wellbeing and happiness is commendable. I urge all to continue the efforts and work together to build a society fit for our children, one that cares for the happiness and best interests of our children at all times,” the decree states.