In a joint press conference with the Cyprus Ministry of Health, BPW Cyprus announced the results of a pilot programme to offer free Pap tests for women in rural areas.
The results were presented by the President of the Cyprus Federation of Business and Professional Women, BPW Cyprus, Ms Mary Papadopoulou. On the occasion of the 12th annual European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Ms Papadopoulou reiterated her commitment to providing information and raising awareness, in combination with the need to consolidate preventive measures. She underlined the fact that in Europe alone, every 18 minutes a women died from cervical cancer, which amounts to almost 80 women a day. And yet, these figures can be reduced, by increasing the number of women who are well informed and aware of the need to take preventive screening tests.
Ms Papadopoulou further referred to the relevant initiatives of BPW over the past few years, referring in particular to BPW’s awareness campaign which was first launched eight years ago under the banner of ‘Information means Prevention’. The campaign covers a total of 115 rural communities, institutions of higher education and private businesses.
In September 2012, and with the support of the Ministry of Health, the first phase of the pilot programme began at the outpatient Health Centre in Evrychou, offering free Pap tests for women from the Soleas communities, aged 25 to 65, regardless of income levels.
Ms Papadopoulou pointed out that this successful initiative was supported financially by the revenue from the sales of T-shirts bearing the international logo of cervical cancer prevention campaign, ‘the Pearl of Wisdom’, a reminder of ‘the wisdom of self-protection’, something we should all share – not just some day, but today.
The second phase of the pilot programme took place at the Tseri and Klirou Health Centre, with the support of the Ministry of Health and the Bishopric of Tamasos and Oreinis, a bishopric practiced volunteerism as a way of life and a pillar of its contribution to society.
In March 2017, the third phase of the programme was launched at the Palaichori Health Centre for the women in the Pitsilia communities.
A total of 2264 Pap test were completed, revealing 21 cases of pre-cancerous or more advanced lesions, which were referred for further examination. As Ms Papadopoulou pointed out, 21 lives were saved, while another 229 cases received medical treatment. The programme for the Pitsilia communities continues at the Palaichori Health Centre.
The fourth phase of the programme which was conducted in cooperation with the Medical School of the University of Nicosia at the Ormedia Health Centre for the communities of Avgorou, Vrysoulles, Dasaki, Achna, Liopetri, Xylotymbou, Xylopaghou and Ormedia, in the districts of Larnaca and Famagusta, an at the Pachna Health Centre for the communities of the winemaking villages.
Ms Papadopoulou noted that the pilot programme demonstrated that effective screening and early detection community programmes could help prevent almost all cases of cervical cancer. She also reiterated that that such preventive programmes constitute good practice that must be implemented in rural communities at accessible locations, such as the existsing Health Centres.
In closing, the President of BPW Cyprus thanked the Minister of Health and the Bishop of Tamasos and Orinis for their support during this campaign for health, and urged the media to contribute to the collective effort to create a culture of prevention.