Former Health Minister Sangay Ngedup given prestigious WHO Health Award

The highest award for Public Health Excellence instituted in World Health Organization (WHO) South East Asia Region (SEARO) was received by Sangay Ngedup, in his capacity as the former Health Minister of Bhutan. Sangay Ngedup was also the former Prime Minister of Bhutan under His Majesty the Fourth King.

The award was also received by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, the former president and Prime Minister of Timor Leste at a banquet hosted by Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO SEARO on 8th September.

The award was given to Sangay Ngedup mainly for establishing the innovative sustainable Health financing model of Bhutan, Bhutan Health Trust Fund and bringing other health reforms in the country.

During award ceremony Lyonpo Sangay said that the award truly belongs to His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan for his selfless farsighted leadership and guidance and also to

all the Health Workers of Bhutan who have worked tirelessly. He said, “I am accepting the award on their behalf.”

He also said “I think it is a moment of pride for Bhutan and all Bhutanese.” He said that it is also an inspiration for all the health family members to look up to.

A WHO press release said that the award was for the two was for path-breaking interventions that helped improve the health and well-being of people in their countries.

“Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, the former Minister of Health and Education, has been recognized for setting up the Bhutan Health Trust Fund, as the Director General of Health Services, to fund vaccines and essential drugs,” said the release.

“The award is an appreciation and acknowledgement of their significant contributions to health care services,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, said while giving the awards at an event on the sidelines of the WHO Regional Committee meeting in Dili, Timor-Leste,on 8th September. The award comprises of a citation and a plaque.

WHO said that Sangay Ngedup, became the Director General of Health

Services in 1992 and the Minister for Health and Education in 1998, and brought unprecedented development in the health sector, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The release said that his most important contribution was the Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF), set up to ensure continued funding of two critical components of health services – vaccines and essential drugs. To raise support and funds for BHTF, Sangay Ngedup travelled 560 km on foot within the country and also visited several other countries to meet potential donors and funders. Today, health contributions of all employees in Bhutan are channeled through BHTF, making it large enough and sustainable to guarantee the availability of all vaccines and essential drugs.

The WHO awards were initiated last year to recognize public health professionals or institution and programme, whose work had resulted in far-reaching implications and gains. The first recipients of this award were Ms Saima Hossain of Bangladesh for her efforts in putting autism on the global agenda, and the Timor-Leste Malaria Control Programme.

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