About 36 women treated and gynaecology consultations done in the past four days

Dechen Tshomo & Nim Dorji

About 314 women in Bumthang and Punakha were screened for cervical cancer since the first phase of the comprehensive cervical cancer screening camp began in Ura, Bumthang from January 3 until yesterday.

On the first day of the screening in Ura, about 63 women turned up at the camp.

Bumthang dzongkhag health officer, Jigme Kelzang said the camp will help diagnose abnormalities that may be indicative of cervical cancer, the most common cancer among the Bhutanese women.

“It will also help us keep a record of the eligible women for the pap smear test.”

Cervical cancer is the number one killer among Bhutanese women with at least three women dying of this cancer every month in Bhutan.

The screening camp in Punakha began yesterday with 111 women undergoing pap smear test in Lobesa.

Of the total screened in the two dzongkhags until yesterday, 36 women were provided treatment and other gynaecology consultations.

A health official said the women were also provided with a clinical breast examination.

“They get the test results on the same day. Those who need to undergo colposcopy or other procedure are called back the next day and provide the necessary treatment,” she said.

Colposcopy is a medical diagnostic procedure to closely examine the cervix to detect pre-malignant and malignant lesions in the area.

Bumthang, Punakha and Mongar were prioritised in the first phase of the comprehensive cervical cancer screening camp based on the current pap smear coverage data.

While the screening camp in Mongar will begin tomorrow and continue until February 17, the screening camp in the Bumthang and Punakha will end on February 9 and January 31 respectively.

All three dzongkhags have a team each comprising of gynaecologist, pathologist, health assistants and Cyto-technician, representatives from RENEW and Bhutan Cancer Society to carry out the cervical screening camp.

The programme is expected to cover more than 16,000 women in the three dzongkhags in the first phase within one and a half month.

Besides cervical cancer screening, the eligible women for pap smear test, those aged between 25 and 65 years, are provided with a comprehensive package service including NCD screening, screening for pelvic organ prolapse, STI (sexually transmitted infections) screening and information on gender-based violence prevention.

Following the camp, a multipronged communications strategy will be adopted to sensitise and raise awareness on healthy living and disease prevention along with targeted programmes on disseminating information on cervical and breast cancer prevention will be intensified.

All women aged between 25 and 65 years in the three dzongkhags are urged to come for screening.

The venue for the screening in these dzongkhags will be available on the health ministry and Bhutan Cancer Society’s Facebook pages.

The health ministry, in collaboration with local governments, Bhutan Cancer Society, RENEW and Bhutan Nun Foundation, is conducting the camp to eliminate cervical cancer in the country.

The implementation of comprehensive package of cervical cancer screening in the three dzongkhags is supported by UNFPA and WHO.