Cervical cancer is the most preventable female cancer, yet is the 7th leading cause of death for females in the UAE. As early detection greatly improves treatment success, National Reference Laboratory encourages the 1.8 million women in the UAE, at risk of developing cervical cancer, to visit their doctor and ensure that screening is part of their routine healthcare.
Abu Dhabi, January 24th 2018 – National Reference Laboratory (NRL), a Mubadala Investment Company, is encouraging all females to follow the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention (MOHAP), and the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening which recommend that all females aged 25 to 65 years undergo a Papanicolaou test, also known as Pap smear test, every 3 to 5 years; and, all females aged 15 to 26 years receive the HPV vaccination.
Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and typically develops very slowly. 93% of cases can be prevented if detected early through a Pap smear test, which is performed during a general gynecological examination. Yet, cervical cancer remains the 2nd leading cancer for females in the UAE because far too many cases are detected in the later stages of the disease.
There have been a number of initiatives to increase the awareness, and the access, of women to Pap smear testing. For example, under the MOHAP's National Cervical Cancer Screening Program, all Emirati women from Dubai and the northern emirates are invited to visit their local MOHAP primary health center to receive a complimentary Pap smear test. The goal is to improve early cervical cancer detection; and thus far, the initiative has demonstrated benefit with 25% more women undergoing testing in 2017 compared to the previous year.
“Increasing awareness of the importance of early detection and its role in decreasing the mortality and morbidity of cervical cancer within the female population of the UAE is an important focus for us. The UAE health authorities have invested resources across the network of public and private healthcare facilities to provide easy access to Pap smear testing for both national and expatriate women. Though we have seen improvements, more work needs to be done to encourage a greater volume of women to participate in regular gynecological checkups. This will require an ongoing collaborative effort from all stakeholders including Government, primary healthcare providers, specialists and laboratories,” said Dr. Suhaila Alameeri, Consultant Anatomic Pathologist at NRL, and member of the Abu Dhabi Health Authority Cervical Cancer Screening Technical Taskforce.
NRL is the exclusive laboratory services provider for MOHAP's National Cervical Cancer Screening Program since 2015, and facilitates awareness of the program among the UAE female demographic through ongoing communication and the delivery of targeted SMS campaigns. NRL also contributes to MOHAP's workshops for general practitioners and gynecologists on the different aspects of the cervical cancer screening process, with the active participation of Dr. Basel Altrabulsi, Chief Medical Officer at NRL.
“NRL is committed to the implementation of international best practices for reference laboratory processes that will enhance healthcare within the UAE and across the region, and we are proud to continue to serve the Ministry of Health & Prevention as the exclusive laboratory partner for the National Cervical Cancer Screening Program. We are dedicated to working with both Government and healthcare practitioners to ensure female patients in the UAE receive a high standard of care that includes access to high-quality diagnostic testing,” said Abdul Hamid Oubeisi, CEO of NRL.
H.E. Dr. Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, MOHAP Assistant Undersecretary for Health Centers and Clinics, added: “We appreciate and value the efforts of National Reference Laboratory for ensuring that high-quality laboratory testing is readily available, and particularly for their support in awareness campaign efforts, for cervical cancer screening.”