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Health to launch pap smear campaign in northern region
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Health to launch pap smear campaign in northern region

The UNFPA goodwill ambassador, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, was on a two week advocacy campaign on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health in the remote northern regions of Lingzhi, Gasa and Laya.

During the tour Her Majesty met with the local people and expressed her deep concern on the community's high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Her Majesty said that the northern regions were frequented by many groups of people accompanying tourists and at the same time the local people were frequently interacting with people across the northern borders.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck
According to health officials the people of Laya and Lingzhi very rarely seek medical help although facilities are available at the Basic Health Unit and outreach clinics. Most women also preferred to deliver at home. "As of now none of the women of Laya and Lingzhi have come to the health centre for pap smear check up which can detect and treat cervical cancer in the early stages," said a health official who accompanied the royal entourage.

Health officials said that a health campaign on pap smear check up will be soon launched in Gunitsawa, Laya and Lingzhi. Cervical cancer is one of the major causes of death in Bhutan and is second only to stomach cancer.

Early initiation of sexual intercourse, repeated pregnancies, sexual promiscuity, embarrassment and self medication were some of the reasons which has put cervical cancer high on the list of malignancies in Bhutan, health officials said.

According to a study done by the health ministry, sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis were high among the Layap community and thus made them more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. But the people of Laya refute the high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among community and say that the numbers have been exaggerated. "Sexually transmitted diseases is prevalent but it has come down from the past," said the former gup of Laya.

This article was contributed by Rinzin Wangchuk, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper
Lingzhi-Laya-Gasa: HM the Queen, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck - Advocacy campaign on HIV/AIDS

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