Bhutan "Move for Health" walk mobilizes
over $1 million for Health Trust Fund
Thimpu / Geneva / New York. 10 October 2002 - 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
) and the American Himalayan Foundation 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
In New York,
In Geneva: Lisa Jacobs, GAVI
Secretariat, +41 22 909 5042, email@example.com