A four-member high-level technical expert from India was in the country this month to discuss the proposal on the National Oncology Centre after the health ministry raised concerns on their expertise on the design, estimation and human resource component.

The health ministry in collaboration with the national referral hospital in Thimphu developed and submitted a comprehensive proposal on the 100 bed National Oncology centre to the Embassy of India in Thimphu.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said the team would submit a report including appropriate recommendations to assist the Government of Bhutan in taking appropriate decision to undertake the proposed National Oncology Center.

The experts include chief of Oncology with Tata Memorial centre, Dr Umesh Mathantshetty; head and neck surgery Professor from Tata Memorial centre, Dr Prathamesh Pai; Deputy General Manager with BME, Suresh Chandra Garg; and architect Narendra Kumar.

The budget for the proposed centre in Gidakom, Thimphu is Nu 4.49B (billion). Human resources and furniture are not included in the proposed budget. Works to construct the centre is expected to start from June, this year.

Lyonpo said that Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay had proposed the construction of the cancer hospital in Thimphu with financial assistance from the Indian government (GoI), during his meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar on October 3, last year.

“This is as a milestone activity to be undertaken as part of the celebration for the Golden Jubilee of the diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India,” Lyonpo said.

Following a discussion between the foreign affairs ministry, Embassy of India in Thimphu and other stakeholders on December 6 last year, the Indian Embassy officially asked the health ministry to submit a proposal including the quantum of assistance required from the GoI, Lyonpo said.

“The embassy further expressed their support to the health ministry in providing technical assistance for preparing the technical requirements of the proposal, including detailed designing and cost-estimation,” Lyonpo said.

Primary and secondary prevention of cancer; strengthening existing cancer treatment facilities; establishing an integrated cancer research training programme; providing palliative care in a terminal stage of cancer; decongesting the national referral hospital; and providing an environment which is peaceful and soothing for the patients are the objectives of the proposed oncology centre.

Besides surgical, medical and radiation oncology services, the centre is expected to provide anesthesiology, rehabilitation and palliative care; research and preventive oncology; nuclear medicine; cancer imaging, diagnostic and therapeutic onco-pathology; onco-pharmaceutical; nursing and specialised clinics.

Dechen Tshomo