Cervical cancer awareness campaign in marginalised Roma communities in Slovakia

Cervical cancer awareness campaign in Slovakia

At the turn of April and May 2022, a series of awareness-raising events on cervical cancer prevention took place in the regional groups of Prešov, Vranov nad Topľou and Sabinov in Slovakia. The events, which were led by experts from the Trnava University in Trnava and organised by Healthy Regions, were perceived from the first meeting by participants, lecturers and the wider community as good and useful cooperation between these two institutions for the benefit of vulnerable communities. More than 550 clients from the target group attended the events, which were held in up to 25 locations. The project addresses the need to increase public awareness of cervical cancer in a targeted and accessible manner.

The project’s awareness-raising activities were considered a success, as evidenced not only by the interest of women and men from the communities but also by the interest of other institutions in future awareness-raising events on this topic.

During the awareness activities, the experts mainly emphasized the uniqueness of the international screening project PRESCRIP-TEC which lies in the use of self-sampling tests that detect the presence of high-risk HPV types, which are responsible for almost 99% of all cervical cancer cases. In comparison to the current screening method, which is based on a cytological examination by a gynaecologist, this method is less invasive and, in many ways, less burdensome for the woman because the collection can be done by the woman herself in the privacy and confidentiality of her own home. The project will be the first in Slovakia to provide real data and experience with this innovative approach to cervical cancer screening, which will serve as a valuable foundation for its future state-coordinated implementation.

The part of the project dedicated to active client communication was also highlighted. After the participant receives the test results, health promotion assistants in the marginalised Roma communities will explain the importance of regularly attending gynaecological exams.

Positive impact on the community was reflected not only in the expression of trust in the health teams who delivered the awareness campaign but also in the form of taking responsibility for their health and sharing their personal experiences with the disease.