A picture from the ‘Move for Health Walk 2002’ led by ex-health minister Sangay Ngedup (2)

Move for Health Walk 2013 flags off today

A shorter version of the ‘Move for Health Walk 2002’ led by ex-Health Minister Sangay Ngedup

With the aim to promote healthy life styles and to raise fund for the Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF), ‘Move for Health Walk 2013’ led by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Minister of Health Tandin Wangchuk and health officials flags off today from Wangduephodrang to Thimphu, a one and half day walk.

The Move for Health Walk was initiated by the then Health Minister, Sangay Ngedup in 2002 and helped raise USD 2mn for BHTF. Move for Health Walk 2002 was a 15-day walk from Trashigang to Thimphu, about 560km of walking distance.

BHTF has been co-financing the procurement of Pentavalent vaccines with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) since 2009, and it will also take up the full financing by 2015 as per GAVI requirements.

The BHTF fund envisages an investment to generate sufficient returns to meet all annual expenditure on essential drugs and vaccines and to help eliminate financing uncertainties for purchase of these crucial components and other related drugs and equipment.

“With the initial target of USD 24mn was achieved in 2009, the current appreciation of Rupee against the Dollar has impacted adversely on the status of the fund. This unfortunate development has resulted huge loss of BHTF funds in terms of dollar value and it has put BHTF back into a situation whereby BHTF once again, has to endeavor to achieve its initial target of USD 24mn,” a news release from the ministry of health stated.

Moreover, BHTF seems to have lost the momentum to build upon the enormous publicity and goodwill generated by the ‘Move for Health Walk 2002’. Given the phenomenal success of the ‘Move for Health Walk 2002’, the Minister of Health, Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk has decided to revive the interest in BHTF once again by undertaking a shorter version of the ‘Move for Health Walk 2002’.

The key concern by the government is to enhance the accessibility and quality of Primary Health Care Services against rising costs and competing needs which is seen as a vital sector of health.

Minister of health Tandin Wangchuk during a recent conference said, “Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are rapidly rising like diabetes, heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and hypertension, and as a result of complications of these diseases, in next few years, NCDs will start to be a national burden. At the same time, we are still grappling with the communicable diseases.”

Lyonpo said NCDs are chronic and seriously impact the quality of life, an individual has to be live thereafter. “This is a loss economically to the individual and the state.”

Number of diabetes patients as per the Annual Health Bulletin (AHB) 2013 in the last five years is recorded at 2, 541 cases in 2008 and the number had increased to 3, 740 in 2011 and 4, 097 cases last year.

Hypertension cases seen in 2008 was 20, 347 and later increased to 23, 051 in 2011 and 20, 347 cases in 2012.

Furthermore Lyonpo mentioned that the budget allocation has increased from Nu. 1bn in the 7th five year plan (FYP) to Nu. 8.5bn in the current FYP.

With the rise in NCDs, introduction of new medical technologies, and new services, the cost is expected to rise. However, Lyonpo said there are opportunities to reduce wastage and control costs.

For the well-being of the people and women and children in particular, and above all, sustainability of Primary Health Care led to the initiation of the BHTF sometime during 1997, but formally launched in 1998 at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, with the vision to attain sustainability in the Primary Health Care delivery system and with the mission to help provide basic health care services to the people.

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