BHTF to finance of essential drugs and vaccines
With the launched of financing of essential drugs and vaccines last Wednesday, now Bhutan Health Trust Fund ( BHTF) will be responsible for the financing of 475 essential drugs and vaccines which includes 381 allopathic and 94 traditional medicines to the health centers in the country.
This was due to the improvement in the socio-economic status and likely donor withdrawal, the government will have to be in a strong position to protect the past gains and self sustain the primary health care services.
Since its inception of BHTF in 2003, it has supported in the procurement of vaccines including the nationwide introduction of measlesrubella (MR) vaccines.
Starting financial year 2014-2015, BHTF started financing essential drugs and will continue at all times to come. The cost of essential drugs was Nu. 182million, the amount is estimated to increase by about 10-20 percent annually. This year, the BHTF will spend Nu.220 million for the procurement of essential drugs and Nu.14million on Pentavalent vaccines.
“As the nation celebrates our visionary Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 60th birth anniversary this year, we are proud that Bhutan Health Trust Fund has started to fund essential 475 essential drug and vaccine from the last financial year”, said Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, the Minister for health. “This achievement in self reliance in essential drugs and vaccines is a special tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo on his 60th birth anniversary”.
Lyonpo added that, “The Bhutanese healthcare system is a predominantly financed and provided by the government. All Bhutanese are entitled free access to health services”. “The overall health of the people has improved as indicated by increased life expectancy, improved child survival rates and decline in ma- ternal mortality rates”.
“We have been enjoying free health care services as a result of the vision and hard work of our beloved monarchs and leaders” said the Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, the acting Prime Minister. “Based on the tenets of Primary Health Care, Bhutan has a functional health care system providing access to all Bhutanese irrespective of their socio-economic background. Now, it is our responsibility to ensure that the future generations enjoy this same privilege”.
“Essential drugs and vaccines are recognized as the foundation for nearly every public health program aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality in the developing world”. “Lack of access to essential drugs and vaccines due to financial reasons is regarded as a human right issue now. Bhutan has always been mindful of this basic human right. Access to essential drugs and vaccines alone is not enough. Proper management and rational use of essential drugs and vaccines is very important and Bhutan has always accorded utmost importance to it”, added the Lyonpo Damcho.
A funding gap is expected from 2018 and may increase significantly from 2019 mostly due to the introduction of new vaccines and new drugs in the essential drug list.
To responds challenges and the expected increased demand for new vaccines and medicine, according to the review report 2015 of BHTF, stated that a resource mobilization strategy and a roadmap for the next ten years and beyond have been developed.
“In the spirit of the Royal Charter, the BHTF Roadmap 2016-2025 aims at setting up a robust governance structure and functions that is effective and efficient in managing the BHTF investment and programs that ensures sustainability of quality primary health care services to the people of Bhutan in the years to come”, stated the report.
Meanwhile, the impact made by the BHTF was that although the financing was very small but the benefit has been widespread. According to the report, it shows that during the year 2004, 90 percent and 2013, 96 percent of the infant were given Hepatitis B vaccine. The impact was that enhanced disease immunity of the children and society increased.
During the year 2013, the coverage of pentavalent vaccine coverage was 96 percent. Due to this, the infant mortality rate death per 1000 live birth decreased from 40.1 in 2005 to 30.0 in 2012, similarly mortality rates under 5 deaths per 1000 live birth decreased from 61.5 in 2005 to 37.3 in 2012.