Another milestone was achieved in improving cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment services in the country with the launch of a Strategic Plan for Cervical Cancer Programme (2019 – 2023) on August 29.
The strategic plan outlines interventions and plans for the next five years to accelerate reduction of cervical cancer morbidity and mortality in the country.
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, during the opening of the three-day National Workshop towards cervical elimination in Bhutan in Thimphu on August 29, said that Bhutan was the first country to raise that cervical cancer had to be eliminated.
This, Lyonpo said, was because it is preventable, treatable and curable. “Knowing the science behind this and not putting up our socks for 700,000 population is unacceptable.”
Bhutan will be the first country in the region to present the cervical cancer elimination strategy in the 72nd WHO South-East Asia regional committee meeting, which will be held in Delhi, Inida from September 2 to 6.
Improving organisation and programme coordination; primary prevention for HPV vaccination; providing high quality cervical screening, early detection; ensuring equitable access to cervical cancer and treatment, and palliative care; establishing quality assurance mechanism and strengtheiening of Public Based Cancer Registry, are the five priority areas of the strategic plan.
In 2006, nationwide cytology based cervical cancer screening programme was instituted.
“After more than a decade of introducing the service, we have a coverage of 56 percent. This is not acceptable,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that the coverage of Pap smear would increase to 60 percent even if nothing was done. It would increase just from the sheer changes that are happening around.
“I hope that this workshop will help you understand and chart the way forward,” Lyonpo said. “Let us know how much it is going to cost, because we have the political will and the commitment at the moment to mobilise the resources. It is my responsibility to raise it and I will not shy away from the responsibility.”
Lyonpo said that the DHO, CMO’s and health assistants must know their districts in and out. The participants were urged to focus on their districts and plan a way forward.
The strategic plan has been developed in align with the goals and targets to 12th Plan, Sustainable Development Goals and global strategy for cervical cancer elimination.
Dzongkhag health officers, Chief medical officers from all the dzongkhags, related programme officers and gynaecologist are attending the three-day workshop that ends today.