Thimphu, 24 April 2020: The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and UNDP Bhutan today signed an agreement on the UNDP’s COVID-19 Response Support to the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The COVID-19 Response package includes support to the Ministry of Health, the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working with vulnerable populations, such as RENEW and Nazhoen Lamtoen.
The three main components of the support package include ICT Equipment Support, Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Inclusive COVID-19 Risk Communications and Advocacy.
Under the ICT component, the support is focused on the roll-out of COVID-19 emergency IT solutions developed by the ministry to obtain real-time data to effectively monitor and rapidly respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the PPEs, the support will supplement ministry’s efforts to equip frontline health workers as well as waste handlers providing collection services from quarantine facilities with essential safety gears.
The third component will focus on supporting the Ministry of Health, NCWC and allied CSOs on inclusive COVID-19 communications and advocacy to disseminate crucial information targeted at hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups.
The GNHC, on behalf of the Agencies receiving the support, thanked UNDP for proactively providing the support required at such a time. “Such support would immensely contribute towards preparedness both in health and in protecting the vulnerable,” the commission added.
On the ICT support to the Ministry of Health, the Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan, Azusa Kubota, said globally, COVID-19 crisis has given impetus to technological advancement and demonstrated the potential of technology in contact tracing and other areas where real-time data is critical for targeted and rapid decision making.
“I commend the innovation, creativity and proactiveness of the local innovators and the Ministry of Health, and UNDP is humbled to be a partner,” she added.
The support to NCWC and allied CSOs is also centered around strengthening their support services for women and children under difficult circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Global data is emerging to show how the coronavirus pandemic is aggravating the existing forms of inequalities and exposing vulnerable women and girls to an increased risk of violence at home,” said UNDP Resident Representativ.
“While this is not an issue in Bhutan, it’s important to ensure our response to the pandemic is inclusive and cognizant of the needs of vulnerable groups.”