UNICEF commends Bhutan for vaccinating almost all children with life-saving vaccines in historic feat

Statement by UNICEF Representative to Bhutan Andrea James

26 April 2024

THIMPHU, Bhutan, 26 APRIL 2024 – “UNICEF congratulates the Royal Government of Bhutan for vaccinating almost all eligible children in the country to protect them from deadly diseases.

“According to data released by the Ministry of Health, in 2023, Bhutan vaccinated 99.6 per cent of children under one year with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine, which shields them against five diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and influenzae. This coverage considered a marker for national immunization coverage in Bhutan indicates that almost all children are immunized against these diseases.

“The success is the result of strong commitment from the Royal Government of Bhutan and partners, who made it a priority to vaccinate children. Health workers walked for hours in harsh weather to reach children living in remote and mountainous terrain. Bhutan’s robust network of 51 hospitals, 184 primary health centres and 552 outreach clinics also made it easier to vaccinate children.

“Through UNICEF, the Royal Government of Bhutan equipped all healthcare facilities with high-quality cold chain equipment, such as walk-in coolers and deep freezers, to store all vaccines at the right temperatures. This was possible largely due to funding from the Government of Japan, Asian Development Bank and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After 50 years of working in Bhutan, UNICEF has built a longstanding partnership with the Royal Government to vaccinate children. In 2023, UNICEF supplied 685,500 vaccines to Bhutan and has so far trained 1,449 healthcare workers and cold chain technicians to handle equipment and vaccinate children. To sustain the gains made, UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Health and work with health workers to conduct mobile health camps to reach the children yet to be vaccinated.

“The impact on children is clear to see. Widespread vaccinations over the past 45 years of the national immunization programme have rid Bhutan of many diseases, such as polio, measles, rubella, and hepatitis, for children below 5 years of age.

“Bhutan is now a beacon of hope for other countries and proof that it is humanly possible to reach every child with life-saving vaccines.”

Media contacts

Sonam Pelden
Tel: +975 171 29484
Sabrina Sidhu
Communication Specialist (Media)
UNICEF South Asia
Tel: +91 9384030106


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) works with UNICEF Country Offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to help to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfil their potential. For more information about UNICEF’s work for children in South Asia, visit www.unicef.org/rosa and follow UNICEF ROSA on Twitter and Facebook