Press Release

Minister Martin urges women in the Mid-West Region to avail of cervical screening under a newly announced Programme

Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., Minister for Health and Children, today (16th October, 2000) formally launched Phase 1 of the National Cervical Screening Programme in Limerick. The aim of the Programme, which is part of the National Cancer Strategy, is to reduce the incidence of and the death rate from cervical cancer.

Phase 1 covers the Mid Western Health Board area. It is targeted at approximately 67,000 women in the 25-60 age group who will be offered screening free of charge at minimum intervals of 5 years. The programme screens for pre-cancerous cells which can be treated before they are able to develop into cancer.

“I am urging all women to participate in this Programme. Women must participate if it is to be effective in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer. There were 82 deaths from cervical cancer in Ireland in 1997. Death from cervical cancer can be avoided by early detection and appropriate treatment. Where effective national programmes have been introduced in other countries, mortality has fallen substantially.” he said.

The Minister emphasised the importance of the quality assurance measures in the programme. Substantial funding has been made available to develop and expand laboratory and colposcopy services for Phase 1 to meet all necessary standards and achieve best practice requirements for the programme. He considered it important that women are re-assured that the quality of the service they are receiving is of the highest standard.

This programme is another element in the strategy to develop and improve, in a planned manner, cancer services throughout the country.