Bhutan’s health system is oriented towards primary health care, although health services, including essential drugs and outside referrals are provided free. Health services in Bhutan are delivered through a network of 32 hospitals, 192 Basic Health Units (BHU) and 550 Outreach clinics. Village health workers numbering up to 4,000 serve as an important link between the government health system and the far flung communities.

UNICEF’s Health and Nutrition programme contributes to MDG 4 (Reduce child mortality), MDG 5 (Improve maternal health), MDG 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria & other diseases) and MDG 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty & hunger) addressing management of malnutrition increasing access and use of quality health services. The programme is in line with the Royal Government’s objective – of reducing infant, child and maternal mortality; sustaining high immunization coverage; reducing malnutrition of children under-five and improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion in both secular and monastic schools.

Over the last two decades, the quality of health service delivery has improved significantly. Health workers are equipped with knowledge and skills to provide quality services in essential new born care, Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC), Infant and young child feeding (IYCF), lactation management, immunization, Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, and voluntary counselling and testing.

During the new country programme, UNICEF’s Health and Nutrition programme aims to support the Ministry of Health to strengthen quality and coverage of maternal and newborn care services, address micronutrient deficiencies and provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities, in schools and monastic institutions.

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