Free cervical cancer screening for women in remote Sabah, S’wak

Dzulkefly hitting a gong to launch Phase 4 of Etiqa’s free cervical screening programme alongside Yeoh (left) and senior management of Etiqa and Rose Foundation.

AN insurer has launched its fourth phase of free cervical cancer screenings.

It was launched by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad at the National Information Dissemination Centre (Nadi) Kampung Batu 19 Jeram in Kuala Selangor, Selangor.

Partnering with Rose Foundation, Etiqa has committed an additional RM1.2mil to provide free screenings to 5,700 eligible women aged 30 to 65 years from underserved and underprivileged communities.

According to a statement by Etiqa, the screenings utilised the foundation’s internationally recognised “Program Rose”, an innovative methodology that used a digital health registry to ensure timely result delivery to participants and links to care when necessary.

Having already funded over 20,000 screenings over the past five years, Etiqa is now looking to expand the screenings into Sabah and Sarawak, targeting remote locations to benefit harder-to-reach populations.

Since its inception in 2019, the free cervical screening programme with Rose Foundation had identified over 200 pre-cancer cases resulting in timely follow-up care, Etiqa said.

The foundation has engaged 38 hospitals nationwide for referrals, linking women with positive test results for appropriate care, it added.

The programme also empowers women with the knowledge and tools to perform self-sampling cervical screenings, which are quick, simple and painless using a swab for self-collection.

The samples undergo validated human papillomavirus (HPV) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, with results communicated via SMS/WhatsApp within three weeks.

Positive cases are referred to government hospitals for follow-up and treatment.

Dzulkefly commended the collaboration between Etiqa and Rose Foundation, saying it was “an excellent example of a partnership between the public sector, private sector and non-governmental organisations that benefits underprivileged women”.

He said it also aligned with the Ministry of Health’s initiative to eliminate cervical cancer in Malaysia and urged for such collaborations to be further expanded.

Also present at the launch were Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, Etiqa International Holdings chairman Datuk R. Karunakaran and Rose Foundation founder and trustee Prof Dr Woo Yin Ling.

Yeoh hoped many more women in Malaysia, especially those living in remote areas, would benefit from this programme.

Karunakaran said, “We are proud to announce the launch of Phase 4 of Etiqa’s free cervical screening programme with Rose Foundation.

“We are thrilled that the programme will be expanded further in Sabah and Sarawak, targeting remote areas to ensure that women in even the hardest-to-reach populations have access to HPV screening, empowering them to take charge of their own health.”

He thanked Rose Foundation for its commitment to the previous phases of the programme and fostering “a culture of proactive health management towards eliminating cervical cancer within Malaysia”.

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