10th October 2002
Bhutan "Move for Health" walk mobilizes over $1 million for Health Trust
Thimpu ⁄ Geneva ⁄ New York. 10 October. There are few
Ministers who would walk over 500 kilometers for the health of their
country, but Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, Bhutan's Minister of Health and
Education, is different. The Minister has just completed a 16- day walk
across the country's difficult terrain, mobilizing attention to the
importance of health as well as mobilizing over $1 million dollars (US)
for Bhutan's Health Trust Fund.
The Minister started his walk on 25 September, World Health Day, whose
theme this year is "Move for Health". In addition to promoting healthy
living through exercise, a key objective of the walk was to mobilize
support for the Health Trust Fund, set up to ensure the sustainability
of immunization and primary health care services for Bhutan. The walk is
also a tribute to Bhutan's health workers who walk daily to remote,
difficult-to-reach areas to deliver immunization and other health
services across the country.
"We applaud the Minister for his commitment to immunization and health,"
said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF and Chair of GAVI, the
Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. "GAVI is about
re-invigorating immunization and ensuring sustainability and Minister
Ngedup is setting an example for others."
The Minister and his team, carrying their own provisions in backpacks,
stopped in different districts across the country to remind villagers of
the importance of health. Many districts, called "Dzongkhag",
contributed their own resources towards the Trust Fund. In some parts of
the walk, students, local officials and villagers have joined the
Minister and his team in support of the event.
"Sustainability is not only about money, it is about responsibility,"
says Minister Ngedup, "It's about people themselves being responsible."
Individuals, organizations, and nations were invited to sponsor the walk
via the Move for Health Bhutan (
http://www.move4health.gov.bt/route.html) and the American Himalayan
http://www.himalayan-foundation.org/) websites. Sponsorship was sought on
a distance, hourly or daily basis, and each dollar or rupee raised was
matched by the government of Bhutan. The ultimate aim is to create a
trust fund of $25 million to provide free immunization, essential drugs
and primary healthcare.
For further information or B-roll, please contact:
In Thimpu: Heidi Larson, Tel: +975 322 424,
In New York: Mohammad Jalloh, +1 212 326 7516,
In Geneva: Lisa Jacobs, GAVI Secretariat, +41 22 909