Press Release – 27 January 2010
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) was presented with an award for its cervical cancer awareness work at the European Cervical Cancer Summit last night (26.01.10).
The Pearl of Wisdom Awards are presented by the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) to recognise individuals and organisations across Europe that have made exceptional efforts to prevent cervical cancer in their communities.
The IFPA has been honoured for its commitment to raising awareness about cervical cancer prevention and advocating for improved cervical cancer prevention programmes.
Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the IFPA said: “The IFPA is delighted that its work on cervical cancer prevention has been acknowledged by the European Cervical Cancer Association. A national cervical screening service and school-based vaccination programme has been a long-standing policy priority for the IFPA.
“Now that Ireland has a free cervical screening programme in place and plans for a vaccination programme are in the pipeline, we are in a position to almost eliminate cervical cancer in a generation.”
The award ceremony formed part of the 4th Annual Cervical Cancer Summit, which is taking place at the European Parliament in Brussels this week and coincides with European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (24-30 January).
As the lead ECCA member in Ireland, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has partnered with CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme, to promote the week.
The Pearl of Wisdom is the international emblem of cervical cancer prevention. The IFPA has distributed 20,000 Pearl of Wisdom campaign badges to encourage discussion about cervical cancer and to remind women to make an appointment for a free smear test when they receive their letter of invitation from CervicalCheck. All 330 member salons of the Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF) are helping the IFPA to distribute the badges this week.
- Each year in Europe there are 60,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 30,000 deaths from the disease.
- Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of early mortality among women in the under-44 age-group in Ireland. Each year over 200 new cases are diagnosed and 90 lives are lost to the disease, which is highly preventable with early detection of abnormal cells.
- Mortality rates from cervical cancer in Ireland have increased 1.5% per year since 1978.
- 99% of cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection of certain high-risk types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world and approximately 50% to 80% of sexually active women contract some form of HPV at least once in their life. Only a small proportion will develop cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms until an advanced stage. A smear test is a simple procedure and is the only way to ensure that any abnormal cells in the cervix are detected early and treated early, preventing the development of cervical cancer.
- Well-organised and well-resourced screening programmes have been proven to dramatically reduce the mortality rate of cervical cancer through early detection and prevention. Women between 25 and 60 get free smear tests through CervicalCheck, The National Cervical Screening Programme.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has been to the fore in setting the agenda for sexual and reproductive rights in Ireland for the last 40 years. The IFPA offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis, including clinical and counselling services, sexual and reproductive health information, education, training and awareness raising.
A national cervical screening service and school-based vaccination programme has been a long-standing policy priority for the IFPA. The IFPA is a member of the European Cervical Cancer Association and is a registered smear taker in the CervicalCheck programme. 4,476 women were screened for cervical cancer at the IFPA’s two clinics in Dublin City Centre and Tallaght in 2009.
* Pictured above are the Irish delegation to the European Cervical Cancer Summit: Claire Manning (Communications Executive NCSS), Deputy Kathleen Lynch, Tony O’Brien (Chief Executive NCSS), Meghan Doherty (IFPA Policy & Advocacy Officer), Niall Behan (IFPA CEO), Deputy Margaret Conlon, Sheila Caulfield (Head of Communications and Stakeholder Relations NCSS) and Deputy James Reilly.