Bhutan’s Uphill Battle Against Confronting Cancer


In recent years, the incidence of cancer in Bhutan has become a growing concern. The rise in cancer cases has prompted the government to prioritize cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment initiatives.

 The Ministry of Health (MoH), in collaboration with various healthcare organizations, has been working tirelessly to improve access to cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment facilities across the country.

MOH said that the ministry is making efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of early detection and lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of cancer. With a focus on comprehensive cancer care, Bhutan is committed to combating this disease and ensuring better outcomes for affected individuals and their families.

Over the past four years, Bhutan has witnessed a total of 2,954 reported cases of cancer in Bhutan, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to combat this disease. Understanding the significance of cancer control, the MoH took a proactive step by establishing the National Cancer Control Program in 2019.

 As part of this program, a successful nationwide screening initiative has been implemented, focusing on breast, cervical, and gastric cancer through the health flagship program. These screening initiatives aim to detect cancer at its early stages, enabling timely intervention and treatment.

In addition, the program has planned various advocacy campaigns, as well as screening and early detection programs for other types of cancer. These comprehensive efforts signify Bhutan’s commitment to tackling cancer and improving the overall well-being of its citizens.

Within our country’s healthcare system, various types of cancer have been diagnosed and treated, with the following being the top ten prevalent cancers. These include stomach cancer, esophagus, liver, lung, rectum, mouth, leukemia, brain and nervous system, prostate, and hypopharynx cancer.

The diagnosis and treatment of these cancers are critical areas of focus for healthcare professionals as they strive to provide effective care and support to individuals affected by these conditions.

By raising awareness, implementing screening programs, and ensuring access to appropriate treatment options, the healthcare system is dedicated to addressing the challenges posed by these types of cancer and improving the overall well-being of people.

The Population-based Cancer Registry has recorded an average of approximately 630 cancer cases annually from 2014 to 2022. This number highlights the ongoing impact of cancer on our population and emphasizes the importance of continued efforts in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

The healthcare system is dedicated to providing the best possible care and support to individuals affected by cancer, with a focus on raising awareness, offering screenings, and ensuring access to appropriate treatments.

 According to the records from 2019 to 2022, out of the 1,416 cancer patients, 673 have successfully overcome their battle with cancer and are currently in remission. This is an encouraging sign that highlights the progress being made in cancer treatment and the resilience of individuals fighting this disease.

The Bhutan Cancer Society (BCS) supports cancer survivors through different programs. They have a support group where survivors can connect and share their experiences. The society also organizes events to celebrate survivorship and recognize the achievements of survivors.

Further, they provide educational programs to raise awareness about cancer and offer financial assistance to those in need. These efforts help survivors feel supported and empowered. Overall, the BCS is doing great work to help cancer survivors in our country.

To reduce the incidence and mortality rate of cancer in the country, BCS is focusing on awareness of prevention, care, and support. Through these programs, BCS said they aim to raise awareness about cancer prevention and provide support to those affected by cancer.

“Our goal is to empower individuals to fight and survive cancer. We also research to ensure that our services are based on the best available evidence. The ultimate aim is to make a positive impact in the lives of Bhutanese people affected by cancer,” BCS officials said.

In pursuit of achieving its objectives, the BCS places a strong emphasis on collaboration with the MoH, healthcare professionals, and other stakeholders.

The MoH, has initiated various projects to combat and eliminate cancers. MoH officials said there is still a long way to go in terms of creating awareness.

The MoH said that the collective effort of the general public is crucial in this fight against cancer. By adopting preventive measures such as practicing a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular screenings, individuals can make a significant impact.

It is also said that there are numerous ways for individuals to contribute and be part of the movement against cancer, and one simple step is by supporting the BCS and its projects and initiatives. “Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.”

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