Bhutan is one of the countries with the fastest and most effective Covid-19 vaccination program in the world, with 90% of adults fully vaccinated.
WHO approves emergency use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
Despite a limited number of doctors and nurses, in just three weeks in the summer, Bhutan delivered a second dose of the vaccine to most of the country’s adults. This is a remarkable success story in an underdeveloped country where 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture and lives in the countryside.
Health Minister Bhutan Solidarity, a small population and science-based policymaking are the factors that have helped the country succeed in its vaccination campaign, said Dechen Wangmo. That achievement also highlights how a country with unfavorable geographical and natural conditions can overcome distribution challenges and vaccine hesitancy.
Relying on the support of the international community
Bhutan’s vaccination campaign would not be successful without international cooperation. This country has received doses Covid-19 vaccine First funded by India. As of March 2021, India has sent 450,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, enough to provide all eligible adults in Bhutan with their first dose in the spring.
But implementing the second dose is a challenge. The second wave of Covid-19 broke out in India, causing the country to prioritize the use of vaccines for domestic people and ban the export of vaccines, so Bhutan has a serious supply shortage. Meanwhile, the number of cases skyrocketing in India’s border region with the country has increased the risk of infection.
After an intense wait, Bhutan received 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine from the US through the COVAX program, followed by 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Denmark. In addition, the country also received AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines from Bulgaria, Croatia, China and many other countries.
Overcoming delivery and shipping challenges
Vaccine distribution is a big challenge for Bhutan. Vaccines delivered under the COVAX mechanism are airlifted to Paro International Airport. Located about 54 km from the capital Thimphu, Paro Airport is located in a deep valley on the banks of the Paro Chhu River, western Bhutan. Surrounded by mountains as high as 5,500m, Paro has become one of the most difficult places for planes to land.
Bhutan has a population of nearly 750,000 people, scattered in an area roughly the size of Switzerland. But not all areas are accessible by road. To overcome the geographical obstacle, the Ministry of Health of Bhutan has detailed a plan to inject 2 doses of the vaccine to all adults in the fastest time possible.
Bhutanese health authorities have carried out field visits in remote areas, to determine where people live and where vaccination centers can be established. To get to these places, they have to go by air, by road, even on foot to the most inaccessible areas.
Schools, convents and other public buildings have been used as vaccination centers. Bhutan also established district-level centers across the country to store and distribute vaccines to smaller sites when needed. In addition, the country also increased domestic flights and used helicopters to distribute vaccines.
The use of a digital app called the Bhutan Immunization System has helped the country speed up the second shot. This application allows people to register for vaccinations online and so it does not take time to declare personal information at vaccination centers.
Besides, the Ministry of Health of Bhutan also regularly organizes online meetings with authorities and health workers in districts, districts or villages, to understand the difficulties and train the staff. health care about vaccination progress and patient monitoring.
France – antibody vaccine against tri-poison
Overcoming the psychology of hesitating to vaccinate
In addition to the above factors, another factor that makes the vaccination campaign successful in Bhutan is the leadership of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and high-ranking officials in the government of this country. King Namgyel Wangchuck visited communities living in remote areas to monitor epidemic prevention measures. The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health of Bhutan have spent a lot of time on the national response to the Covid-19 epidemic.
Bhutanese politicians have actively contacted people to overcome the hesitation to vaccinate. In addition, the vaccination campaign is promoted by influential figures on social networks, television stations and famous actors.
Not every country has achieved the success of Bhutan. The small population and high trust with the authorities have created favorable conditions for Bhutan to deploy the vaccination campaign smoothly.
Bhutan’s success is a bright spot in the South Asian region, where countries like India and Bangladesh are grappling with a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant. The country is also an example of how it is possible to rapidly and equitably deploy vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.
Hong Anh/VOV.VN (translator)