The overall goal of the project is to reduce the incidence and mortality of women’s malignancies (breast and cervical) in Albania, Montenegro and Morocco through the design and implementation of a comprehensive cervical and breast cancer control strategy. The strategy will be developed in coherence with national public policies and plans and in close coordination with national health authorities and local health care practitioners.
The project is in line with the UfM Ministerial commitments on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society (2013), especially by ensuring women’s right to adequate healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights. The project is also in line with the Euromed Ministerial Conference on Health (2008) which stressed the importance of taking all the necessary steps to achieve the health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The growing impact of cervical and breast cancer in the 15 countries from the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean currently represents a major concern. In these countries incidence and mortality rates for both malignancies have been increasing over the past decades. Every year over 19.000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 212.600 with breast cancer while 7.800 and 62.200 respectively succumb to the disease.
Public health measures such as the establishment of cancer prevention and early detection programs – through increased cervical and breast cancer screening, public health education programs promoting healthier lifestyles, and the introduction of HPV tests and vaccination – are critical to reducing global cancer disparities, particularly among women in low- and middle-income Mediterranean countries.
With a total budget of 4.16 million Euros over 4 years, the project is promoted by the National Health System Reference Centre for Epidemiology and Prevention of Cancer in Piedmont (CPO) and will be implemented in Albania, Montenegro and Morocco. By enhancing the improvement of cancer control policies and the introduction of a multidimensional and gender sensitive approach to cervical and breast cancer prevention into existing policies (e.g. national cancer plans) and delivered services (e.g. primary healthcare facilities, family planning clinics, etc.) it will promote women’s empowerment and full enjoyment of their human rights, in particular quality healthcare. It will also improve and sustain health systems into offering high quality services by reducing the causes of delay of cancer diagnosis, premature deaths as well as the social and economic impact of cancer in these countries.
In addition, the project will encourage in-country, South-to-South, and North-to-South cooperation through the strengthening and consolidation of a network on cancer prevention fostering the exchange of updated knowledge and information, best practices and cancer prevention strategies tailored to local economic, social and cultural characteristics.
In the framework of the project, over 45.000 disadvantaged women (aged 25-65) are expected to be tested for cervical and breast cancer and to be sensitized to the risks and the importance of cervical and breast cancer prevention. More than 300 health professionals and other relevant stakeholders involved in the early detection/screening programs will be trained.
All project activities will be developed in coherence with public policies and strategies in the field of cancer control and in close coordination with national health authorities and local health care practitioners.
The multi-stakeholder approach adopted by the project – involving decision makers, health care professionals, and civil society organisations, and the strong involvement of the National Ministries of Health – will facilitate its implementation and sustainability as well as strengthen national ownership and regional cooperation.
The project will be carried out thanks to the financial contributions from the participating countries, the Italian Ministry of Health (100.000€) and the Institut National du Cancer – Paris- France (100.000€).
About the promoter and partner institutions
The National Health System Reference Centre for Epidemiology and Prevention of Cancer in Piedmont (CPO) has 20 years’ experience in working in the field of cancer prevention. The centre has developed a strong collaboration with national and international institutions and agencies (World Health Organisation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), European Commission) towards the implementation and the development of codes against cancer, cancer diagnosis and quality assurance guidelines. On May 2014, the CPO has been designated as WHO Collaborating Centre for early detection and screening of cancer.
The World Health Organization was created on 1948 and constitutes the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO’s priority in the area of health systems is moving towards universal health coverage. WHO works together with policy-makers, global health partners, civil society, academia and the private sector to support countries to develop, implement and monitor solid national health plans. In addition, WHO supports countries to assure the availability of equitable integrated people-centred health services at an affordable price; facilitate access to affordable, safe and effective health technologies; and to strengthen health information systems and evidence-based policy-making.