“I now understand that pap smear test is important for early detection of cervical cancer,” 45 year old Devika, mother of four children told UNFPA. Devika, an attendee of high level advocacy led by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Her Majesty Gyalgum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, said that she will immediately go to the health center for pap smear screening and also encourage her friends to use this free facility provided by the government.
Health officials accompanying the high level advocacy team highlighted that cervical cancer is the leading causes of death among Bhutanese women due to limited awareness and late diagnosis, despite being preventable. Even though pap test is free in the country, 65 percent of Bhutanese women are always diagnosed late. Cervical cancer tops the malignancy diagnosed in women. It is second common cancer after that of stomach. It constitutes about 19% of all cancers diagnosed and about one fourth of total cancer cases referred out of the country for advance treatment. “All women between 25-65 years old, sexually exposed must have pap test every three years,” said the health officials.
UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Gyalgum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, encouraged women to make best use of the free health facilities provided by the government and to "stay healthy." Devika told UNFPA that she will go for pap test and pass this new knowledge to her family and community members to avoid untimely deaths for women. Over 1000 women of reproductive age, attended this high level advocacy in Samtse district.