DPM DR WAN AZIZAH LAUNCHES ETIQA FREE CERVICAL SCREENING PROGRAMME FOR WOMEN IN B40 COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE
JULY 28, 2019 @6.16PM
The nationwide ‘Etiqa Free Cervical Screening Programme with ROSE Foundation' got off to a resounding start today when Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail, deputy prime minister of Malaysia, officiated the launch in her own constituency of Pandan.
The programme, costing more than RM1.2 million, will screen a total of 6,000 women, aged 30 to 49 from selected B40 communities in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak over the course of one year. Funded by Etiqa and implemented in collaboration with ROSE Foundation (Removing Obstacles to Cervical Screening) offers an innovative solution to detecting pre-cancer causing HPV viruses in women.
Under ROSE, women are given a personal kit that they can use themselves to privately and painlessly obtain a sample from their vagina. This is then put through a highly accurate HPV test in the laboratory. The results are sent to the women’s own mobile phones. Women with the virus who have subsequently developed pre-cancer lesions can then be treated before it progresses into cervical cancer.
According to Dato R. Karunakaran, chairman of Maybank Ageas Holdings Berhad, the parent company of Etiqa General Insurance Berhad, the initiative is part of Etiqa’s corporate social responsibility commitment towards healthy living under its Etiqa Cares flagship programme.
“As a leading local insurance and takaful operator, Etiqa has always been dedicated to serving our community as we are to serving our customers and we are proud to play an active role in supporting the government’s vision of seeing more women aware of the perils of cervical cancer and taking steps towards getting themselves screened," he said.
“Speed and simplicity are very important especially to those from the B40 category. Low disease awareness and the constant struggle to earn a living often deter them from undergoing health screening. Partnering ROSE Foundation as its very first corporate partner will help to bring the screening service to B40 women in their own communities," he added.
The inaugural screening roadshow today was organised in collaboration with Pandan Parliament Service Centre. Over 200 women came forward to be screened, thereby becoming the first to benefit from the programme.
Late diagnosis results in death
According to Professor Dr Woo Yin Ling, Medical Technical Advisor to the ROSE Foundation, cervical cancer is among the top three most common cancers for Malaysian women. But it is also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers, provided the disease is detected and treated early.
She lamented that nearly 80% of cervical cancer cases in Malaysia are diagnosed in their late stages, which results in majority of women dying from the disease. She stressed that regular cervical screening can prevent this tragic loss of life and can help eliminate the cancer altogether.
Professor Woo, who is also Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at University Malaya Medical Centre remarked that pap smears have been a barrier to screening as many women find them embarrassing and uncomfortable.
“This is why we are happy that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development are now moving towards self-sampled HPV testing instead.
Two tests per lifetime
"With ROSE, women need only as few as two tests per lifetime as opposed to 15 PAP smears. However, ROSE is more than just a test; it is about putting the women first and helping them navigate the system.
Professor Woo explained that many women cannot afford to spend hours in the clinic for a preventive test. Those who receive positive results become fearful and are unsure of how to find their way around the hospital, nor would they know how to make an appointment or even show up.
“ROSE helps women overcome their fear of ‘getting lost in the system’ and ensure they get treated successfully at hospitals, be it for pre-cancer lesions or cervical cancer. ROSE would be responding to the government’s call to aid underserved communities through public-private partnerships in the spirit of universal healthcare for all.
“We will also be part of a global movement, led by the World Health Organisation of working together towards the elimination of cervical cancer," she added.
The Etiqa Free Cervical Screening programme with ROSE Foundation will head for Miri, Sarawak in August and Bakri, Johor in September.
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