Japan commits grant for 26 ambulances

26 January, 2011 – Health service delivery is expected to improve, after a grant agreement on replacement of ambulance project was signed between the government of Japan and the government yesterday.

Under the agreement signed between the resident representative of JICA, Tomoko Nitta, and the GNH Commission’s secretary, Dasho Karma Tshiteem, the health ministry would receive about Nu 88.5M in grant to procure 26 ambulances. The government will contribute its part to procure another 10 additional ambulances, which would be used to replace the old ones.

The prime minister had requested for the ambulances during his official visit to Japan in 2009, a press release from the Lyonchhoen’s office stated.

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley who is in Tsirang, said that the grant would support the government for efficient delivery of health services especially in the form of ambulatory services. “This is a very critical area of need for Bhutan especially where villages are scattered and where, through much effort now, roads are being built,” he said.

Tomoko Nitta said that the Japanese government fully understands and appreciates the prime minister’s efforts and desire for the well being of the Bhutanese people and for the rural population to have speedy and smooth access in case of medical emergencies. “Given the topographical situation of the country and the lack of diagnostic health facilities in rural areas, this task is by no means easy and quick to achieve,” he said.

He said the grant would go a long way in filling the necessary gaps in providing effective and efficient medical services, and will also strengthen the goodwill and friendship between the two countries.

Health minister, Zangley Dukpa, said that of the 72 ambulances in the country, about 35 have been in use for the last nine years and needs replacement. “That is why we requested Japan government to assist us,” he said.

Within the next one year, Bhutan will have about 108 ambulances.

Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa said that the old ambulances, which are in serviceable condition would be send as a back up in critical areas like Panbang, Nganglam and Lhamoyzinkha.

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said that Nu 88.5 M comes as an addition to a huge amount Japan committed to assist Bhutan in implementing the 10th Plan. Japan government had assisted about Nu. 6,152 million. “This amount is also in continuation to the very valuable assistance Japan has given to Bhutan since the Fifth Plan,” the prime minister said.

Japanese government had also been involved in supporting Bhutan’s development process in a variety of sectors like agriculture, power, roads, telecommunication, bridges, education, health, good governance, urban development and disaster management recently.

Meanwhile, the Bhutan’s ambassador to Japan, Maj. General V. Namgyel and the Japanese ambassador to Bhutan, Mr. Hideaki Domichi also signed the exchange of notes of the same project in New Delhi yesterday.

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