Youth-led Walk the Talk event raises awareness on cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. It is curable if detected early and treated adequately. However, in Bhutan, it is the most prevalent cancer among women in the country. According to the Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report, cervical cancer has the highest cancer rate among women aged between 15 and 44 years in Bhutan. To create awareness and educate people about cervical cancer, the Bhutan Youth Development Fund in collaboration with the Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation observed the Walk the Talk event today.

The Walk the Talk is an annual event organised by the World Health Organisation to highlight a public health topic of critical concern in the country.

Cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV. Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if detected early. To lower the risk, health experts advise using protection during sexual intercourse, avoiding smoking, and making sure that girls aged 12 get the HPV vaccination among others.

To mark the event in the capital, over a hundred students from four schools participated in the event. The participants began the walk from the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Mother and Child Hospital to the Clock Tower. Similarly, the event was organised across the country.

“I feel it’s very important to get awareness about cervical cancer because till now I didn’t know that there was this cancer and also a vaccination for it. On a personal level, I will tell my family to get vaccinated. And this whole program has educated all of us,” said Athmja, a student of Yangchenphug HSS.

“Since the condition of cervical cancer is not good in our country, I feel that It is very important that we participate in such events. Initially, I did not know much about cervical cancer, however, I learned more about it through this event. I plan to work by Her Majesty Gyalyum Tseyring Pem Wangchuck’s vision to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030 in the country,” said Tandin Kinley Tshewang, another student of Yangchenphug HSS.

After committing to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030 at the 144th session of the World Health Organisation in January 2019, Bhutan became the first country in the region to launch a comprehensive national strategic plan to eliminate cervical cancer by the end of this decade.

The strategic plan serves as a roadmap for the ministry to strengthen the services for the programme and improve the quality of care in screening, early detection and treatment.

More than 50 cases of cervical cancer are detected every year. The government spends nearly Nu 200,000 for each patient undergoing cervical cancer treatment.

In November 2020, the World Health Organisation launched a Global Strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, if this strategy is implemented globally, a total of 74 million cervical cancer cases could be prevented and 62 million women’s lives could be saved over the next century.

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