Washington and Seattle (ots-PRNewswire) - The Summit Foundation
and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have each awarded the Royal
Government of Bhutan a $1 million grant for its Bhutan Health Trust
The Bhutan Health Trust Fund was set up by the government to
provide basic preventative and curative health services to its
people. Currently, government health services reaches over 90
percent of the country's population of 658,000, providing all
services, including immunizations and medicines, free of cost. The
primary objective of the Health Trust Fund is to ensure the
continued supply of vaccines and essential medicines and to eliminate
funding uncertainties for these crucial components.
To date, the Health Trust Fund is nearly halfway to reaching its
$24 million goal. The Health Trust Fund offers a tremendous
leveraged opportunity for potential donors as the Bhutanese
government has agreed to match any contribution one-to-one. Once the
$24 million goal is reached, the interest from the Health Trust Fund
will be able to sustain some core areas of Primary Health Care
including immunization and health programs.
"The idea of a health trust fund is a novel and dependable
alternative for financing the priority needs of obtaining vaccines
and essential medicines," said Dr. Gordon Perkin, Director of the
Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We
are pleased to be part of this new approach, which hopefully could
serve as a model for other smaller countries or regions."
The size of Switzerland, the kingdom of Bhutan is situated in the
eastern Himalayas between India and China. It is a developing
country with 85 percent of the population engaged in subsistence
farming in rural areas. Since introducing modern health services in
the early 1960s, Bhutan has increased its immunization coverage
steadily. In 1994, it attained an 86 percent vaccination rate.
Infant and maternal mortality rates have declined to all- time lows.
"During a recent trip to Bhutan, we visited the country's
excellent primary hospital in Thimpu, as well as the impressive
remote health centers. For Bhutan to sustainably provide universal
primary health care to all citizens is truly visionary and
applaudable," said Vicki Sant, president of The Summit Foundation.
"We are pleased to participate in making this possible for a country
we so admire."
For more information about the Bhutan Health Trust Fund, please
call the Permanent Mission of Bhutan in New York, USA at
212-826-1919 or the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi, India at
Established in 1991, The Summit Foundation is an international,
private grantmaking foundation based in Washington, D.C. The
foundation's mission is to promote the health and well being of the
planet -- its people and its natural environment. The foundation
fulfills its mission through work in three program areas. First, the
foundation addresses global population issues by expanding
educational and economic opportunities for women and youth and
promoting universal access to high-quality, voluntary family planning
services and reproductive health care. Second, the foundation
protects biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean by
conserving the region's biological wealth, maintaining the integrity
of its threatened ecosystems and providing market incentives for the
sustainable use of natural resources. Third, the foundation promotes
linkages and connections among population and environmental programs
and policies, particularly in biodiversity-rich countries and
eco-regions. The foundation has a current staff of ten.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving
people's lives by sharing advances in health and learning with the
global community. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr.,
and Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based Foundation has an asset base
of approximately $21 billion. Preventing deadly diseases among poor
children by expanding access to vaccines, and developing vaccines
against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, are central priorities.
Other major efforts include extending unprecedented opportunities
for learning by bringing computers with Internet access to every
eligible public library in the U.S. and Canada, and providing
scholarships to academically talented minority students in the U.S.
with severe financial need through the Gates Millennium Scholars
). For complete information and grant
guidelines, visit www.gatesfoundation.org
ots Original Text Service: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Annemarie Hou of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 206-709-3265 or
; or Leki Dorji of the Bhutan Health Trust
Fund, Royal Bhutanese Embassy, 66-2-630-1192, fax, 66-2-630-1193, or
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