One and a half month of a comprehensive cervical cancer screening camp is on-going in Punakha, Bumthang and Monggar, starting from January till mid of February 2020.
The health ministry expects to cover 16,000 women, aged between 25 to 65 years. The ministry is partnering with local governments, RENEW, NCWC, Bhutan Cancer Society and Bhutan Nuns Foundations to get the comprehensive service to the women.
The service package includes cervical cancer screening and treatment, Pap smear test, Colposcopy and treatment services are also provided.
On the breast cancer screening, the camp will provide clinical breast examination and breast self-examination. Pelvic Organ prolapse screening where pelvic examination will be done. Basic NCD screening where BP, weight, height, BMI, glucose will be checked and other gynecology services including family planning service.
RENEW will also be providing behavioral change communication and gender based violence and Nuns Foundation will be providing information on menstrual hygiene management among nuns in the three dzongkhags.
First guideline of cervical cancer was developed in 1999 and from 2000 to 2004, the ministry had piloted the project on Pap smear program and started the Pap smear program in 2006.
In 2010, HPV vaccination for adolescent girls was introduced. In 2013 the Population Based Cancer Registry started, where information of all types of cancer is collected, which is very important for future planning and intervention.
Study found that 1 in 4 Bhutanese women is affected with HP, and there is high prevalence of HPV among Bhutanese women compared to neighboring countries
Looking at Pap smear program, the screening tool for cervical cancer, there are eligible women of 169,908 which also means that 169,908 women are at risk of cancer.
As per the STEPS survey, 2019, only 60.4 percent of Bhutanese women, aged between 25 to 65 of years have done Pap smear within the last 3 years. But as compared to the neighboring countries, Bhutan is ahead.
Bhutan is the first country committed to eliminate cervical cancer during 144 WHO Executive Board meeting in January 2019.
Some of the strategic plan for cervical cancer program (2019-23) towards elimination of cervical cancer in Bhutan includes the HVP vaccination among boys which is the primary prevention of cervical cancer
It also includes the HVP testing which is the newest technology to screen women. It will ensure more sensitivity and prevent more women from dying. The plan also aims to strengthen quality assurance mechanism at all levels, and coordination and partnership with LG, NGOs and other community based system.
Meanwhile, the ministry targets to cover HVP vaccinations among girls to 97 percent and more than 90 percent among boys by 2023.
Currently, 60.4 percent of women are screened for cervical cancer. The target is to bring it up to 90 percent, and for all the women who are detected with cervical cancer to receive treatment.