Ministry of health launches three new vaccines
Commemorating the auspicious occasion of the 28th Birth Anniversary of Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, the Ministry of Health launched three new vaccines: pneumococcal, rotavirus and influenza ( flu) last Monday by the Prime Minister.
The new vaccines are a gesture of kindness and gift by Her Majesty to the Bhutanese children, pregnant women and elderly population. It is a symbol of Her Majesty’s unfaltering care and support for the Bhutanese people from all walks of life.
However, routine administration of these vaccines would begin from January 2019.
Health minister, Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said pneumonia, diarrheal disease and meningitis continue to harm our children. Pneumonia accounts for 27.8 percent, diarrhea 13 percent and meningitis five percent of child deaths in Bhutan.
“Pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which will be administered annually to about 14000 children under one year of age, would go a long way in reducing childhood morbidity and mortality translating to improved Infant mortality Rate ( IMR) and Under 5 Mortality Rate ( U5MR).”
Lyonpo added that, Influenza ( flu) vaccine is being introduced to high risk groups as preventive health measure against seasonal influenza to reduce illness, complications and deaths among children under 5 years of age, pregnant women, elderly persons, persons with chronic health conditions and health workers.
The Bhutan Health Trust Fund will meet the cost of these vaccines estimated at Nu. 93.31M annually.
The two vaccines are being introduced for our senior citizens; pneumococcal and influenza vaccines, added the Lyonpo.
His Holiness the Je Khenpo had earlier made a kind and gen- erous gift of Nu. 10M to the Bhutan Health Trust Fund. This contribution would meet the vaccine introduction cost estimated at Nu. 9.24M while the routine ( annual) costs will be subsequently met from the Bhutan Health Trust Fund.
The Ministry of Health will administer vaccines to all senior citizens above 70 years. The vaccines will also be administered to other adults 65+ years based on valid medical reasons.
On the same day, the Ministry of Health officially took the Health Emergency Operation Center ( HEOC) from World Health Organization ( WHO).
The HEOC will function as a center for coordination, communication and resource sharing during emergencies and disasters.
Director of public health department, Dr. Karma Lhazeen said that the launching of three new vaccines and the opening of health emergency operation centre could not have found more important than that day.
“We the people of Bhutan are totally blessed and grateful to our beloved King and the Royal family of Bhutan for gifting us free health care for all times.”
In adding that the Director added that launching of two new vaccines expected to improve the life expectancy of the people further.
While the new vaccine for under one children are expected to help us to further reduce incidences of pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and meningitis and this contributes to further reduction of infant and under five children deaths.
During the inauguration of the HEOC , WHO Bhuitan Representative, Dr. Rui Paulo De Jesus said that during the year 2015, when Nepal was hit by an earthquake that claimed more than 9000 lives, injured more than twice the figure and destroyed structures.
Dr. Rui said that Bhutan also lies on highly seismic zone and is susceptible to environmental health challenges inducing by climate change that includes flood, triggered by glacial outburst and torrential rains are constant concerns.
“This necessities preparedness on the part of Bhutanese health system should natural calamities strike.”
Realizing this and learning from the experience, WHO recommends health emergency operation centre as a critical management infrastructure for both delivery of public health function and monitoring adequate response during emergencies.
Meanwhile, this HEOC is equipped with communication facilities including video conferencing, VHF radios, satellite phones, cameras, Broadband Global Area Network. It can be powered by generator and solar energy systems. Other office amenities are also included inside, such as computers, printers, chargers and furniture to facilitate the smooth functioning of the HEOC.