Nima Wangdi

The ongoing health flagship programme to eliminate gastric, cervical, and breast cancers in the country has achieved approximately 90 percent coverage.

However, the coverage remains below the flagship’s target of 95 percent in most of the dzongkhags.

Going by the data, H.Pylori screening has achieved more than 95 percent coverage in nine dzongkhags which includes Bumthang, Gasa, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, Thimphu, and Zhemgang. Trashiyangtse and Trongsa have more than 100 percent coverage.

Punakha has the lowest coverage of 48 percent.

Dagana, Gasa, Paro, and Punakha achieved more than 95 percent coverage for cervical cancer. Lhuntse, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, and Wangdue have more than 100 percent coverage.

Thimphu Thromde has the lowest coverage—63.05 percent.

Dagana, Gasa, Lhuntse, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, and Zhemgang have achieved more than 95 percent for breast cancer screening. Chukha has the lowest—50.07 percent.

Sowa Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that the ministry would soon achieve the flagship target of 95 percent coverage.

She said that the screening programme detected 314 gastric cancer cases and 39 cases in the early stages of cancer; about 311 cervical cancer and 184 early cervical cancer cases were also detected. “Overall 85 percent coverage has been achieved.”

The flagship programme was designed for detecting three cancers—gastric, breast, and cervical cancers.

She said Bhutan was the first country to table the elimination of cervical cancer at the World Health Organisation. “Bhutan is also the first low middle-income country (LMC) to introduce HPB testing and also introduce HPB vaccine for boys.”

According to Lyonpo, Bhutan could be the first country to achieve cervical cancer elimination. “Similarly, we should also be able to achieve gastric cancer elimination.”

The health flagship program was launched in Mongar on March 9, 2021, with a budget of Nu 1.3 billion.