Two doctors from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan are visiting Perth to further their knowledge of cancer diagnosis and treatment.Leading international breast cancer surgeon and researcher, UWA Winthrop Professor Christobel Saunders, said Dr Lungten Wangchuk was a public health doctor from Bhutan's Ministry of Health while Dr Ugyen Tshomo was Bhutan's only gynaecologist-oncologist.
After being invited by the Ministry of Health to Bhutan in 2009, Professor Saunders developed a cancer policy and plan for that country to provide better prevention and early detection of common cancers as well as world-class national cancer care and support.
Situated between India and China, Bhutan has a population of 650,000 with nearly one-third living in urban areas. The average life expectancy is 66 years and more than 80 per cent of cancers present at a late stage.
Bhutan is best known for its policy of "Gross National Happiness" rather than Gross National Product as an approach to development and modernisation. It opened its doors to the international community only in the late 1960s.
"Tackling cancer is a complex task that will be made easier with a comprehensive plan supported by government, health services, health professionals, academic institutions, religious and community leaders and the people of Bhutan," Professor Saunders said.
"During their visit, the doctors from Bhutan will meet cancer specialists, clinicians and researchers, and learn how our cancer prevention, treatment and support services work.
"We hope that the knowledge they gain from their time here will help them in their practice and teaching at home in Bhutan."
The visit was funded by the Cancer Council Australia, the Australian Himalayan Foundation and The International Skills and Training Institute in Health.
WA public health worker Michelle Hogan, who has lived and worked in Bhutan, helped coordinate the project and is working to foster links between Australia and Bhutan.
A seminar for interested health professionals about cancer services in Bhutan will be held 6pm next Wednesday March 7, at St John of God Hospital Subiaco auditorium. Call (08) 9212 4375 to attend.