Nima Wangdi

A Japanese university will help Bhutan produce H.Pylori rapid test kits within five years.

The Oita University of Japan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) for the five-year project on August 29.

SAPTREP-AMED gastric cancer project between the two universities began in March this year and aims to establish a rapid diagnosis kit (15 minutes) for H.Pylori at Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC).

RCDC’s head Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that Bhutan procures test kits from other countries. “In partnership with Oita University and the companies manufacturing the test kits in Japan, the manufacturing capacity would be built at RCDC.”

“We can produce the test kits that will meet our domestic requirement,” he said.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that training and procurement of equipment, the establishment of procedure of testing kits quality control would be done in the first year.

“Production might happen in the later years of the project,” he said.

He said that through the implementation of a platform of genomic analysis and increasing the skills of researchers, rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) will also be established against antimicrobial-resistant H.pylori.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that the people testing positive for H.Pylori are given triple regime medicines for the course of 14 days. He said that there is a likelihood of developing drug resistance. “But we need to study them.”

“Under this project, we will also study if the 14-day medicine course could be brought down to seven days,” Dr Sonam Wangchuk said. “It could be possible if the efficacy of the medicines is found to be the same. This is because the shorter the medication course, the compliance is higher.”

“The project for institutional capacity building for eliminating Helicobacter pylori-related deaths in Bhutan” in partnership with RCDC, JDWNRH and other 8 Japanese hospitals and universities is supported by Japanese health ministry and JICA.

The project will support the Bhutanese gastroenterological endoscopy society and foster endoscopy and medical facility development for detecting early gastric cancer and treatment according to a press release from KGUMSB.

The project will also develop a guideline document for H.pylori diagnosis, treatment, early gastric screening, and elimination of H.pylori-associated gastric cancer in the country.

According to the press release, the project will also conduct a nationwide surveillance on H.pylori infection using their innovations; rapid diagnosis kit, rapid AST and mobile application. This is because understanding the prevalence and the compliance rate of triple therapy medication is necessary to provide a roadmap for elimination of H.pylori infection from Bhutan.

People’s awareness and understanding of the importance H.pylori treatment to reduce the risk of gastric cancer is necessary to achieve the elimination goal according to the press release.

“Therefore, advocacy and education on H.pylori associated gastric cancer prevention will be conducted to the general public complimenting the on-going national gastric cancer flagship program,” it stated.

The project is being initiated to eliminate gastric cancer, which is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the country.