Works to construct the National Oncology Centre in Gidakom is expected to start from June this year. 

According to foreign media reports, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay had proposed the construction of the cancer hospital in Thimphu during his meeting with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary to discuss the 50 years celebrations between the two countries in October last year.

The tentative month to lay the foundation stone for the oncology centre is reflected as June in the Golden Jubilee Programme Booklet produced by the foreign affairs ministry. Exact dates are not reflected.

The estimated budget for the construction of the GoI supported National Oncology Centre including equipment is about Nu 4.4B (billion).

Health Secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said the ministry estimated the budget, which will be further discussed with a team of experts from India who will be in the country this month.

Meanwhile, the government has started providing cancer treatment within the existing infrastructure at the national referral hospital in Thimphu.

The hospital currently provides diagnosis, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to cancer patients.

Records with JDWNRH show that more than 2,000 cancer cases were registered in the last four years, which means at least 500 new cancer cases are reported every year.

In the financial year 2016-17, about 1,500 patients were referred to India for treatment which cost the government about Nu 2B. Of this, about 35 percent were cancer patients. 

The number of referrals of cancer patients to India increased from 499 in 2016 to 555 in 2017.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, gynaecologist Dr Ugen Tshomo said Bhutan has many upper gastro-intestinal cancers, which include cancer of the stomach and food pipe. The other most common cancer is hepato-biliary cancer, which includes cancers of the bile ducts, liver or gallbladder. These two cancers, she said, have the highest mortality.

Dechen Tshomo