RFHI Cervical Cancer Component (2003-2006)
Context · Main Activities · Key Results
Cervical cancer is a major worldwide health problem that can be prevented by using a simple exam, a cervical-vaginal cytology or Pap smear. Romania has the highest incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer in Europe, as there is a weak prevention and early detection program in place at the national level.
This RFHI component covered four Romanian districts (Cluj, Salaj, Satu Mare, and Bistrita Nasaud), and provided strong support to the MOPH's Oncologic Pathology Prevention and Control Program. It sought to reach women aged 25-65 from underprivileged and isolated rural and urban populations that have difficult or no access to health and information services, particularly information related to breast and cervical cancer prevention programs.
The component would not have been possible without a strong and successful partnership composed of: JSI Romania, as coordinating agency, the Romanian Cancer Society (SRC), as an implementer, other NGOs, medical and scientific bodies (Cluj Napoca Institute of Oncology, Cluj Napoca University of Medicine) and the local public health authorities in project sites.
An innovation of this component was the establishment of local initiative groups —including the mayor, priest, school teacher, family doctor, nurse, Roma health mediators— who mobilized the target population and contributed, through their leadership and credibility, to increased impact of information and education messages.
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- Implemented outreach activities to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer prevention and encourage the target group to participate in the screening program
- Built capacity by training family doctors to perform Pap smears and breast examinations for screening.
- Provided services for the early detection of breast and cervical cancer. MOPH regulations entitle all women to a free Pap test once every five years. Under USAID's RFHI, women also received free access to mammograms and treatment for suspected malignancies, through the Institute of Oncology. The exams took place within family doctors' offices equipped with a gynecology table, or in the SRC mobile unit for those villages without adequate medical consulting rooms.
- Built consensus among professionals regarding cervical cancer early detection and prevention practices through a conference establishing a common framework for cervical cancer prevention standards and criteria in accordance with European Union standards.
- Shared experience and best practices at the national level through a dissemination conference on the cervical cancer screening pilot program.
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- Tested 13,402 women, of whom 91 percent had never been tested before. In addition, 83 percent received a breast examination and 260 of those screened received free follow-up mammograms.
- Trained 101 family doctors (54 from rural areas and 47 urban).
- Aligned Romanian cervical cancer prevention standards used in Romania to European ones.
- This activity acknowledged at the European level through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon/France. The Romanian Cancer Society became member of the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA).
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