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Community Care Fund to roll out Pilot Scheme on Subsidised Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventive Education for Eligible Low-income Women (with photo)
     The Community Care Fund will roll out a three-year pilot scheme tomorrow (December 13) to provide free or subsidised cervical cancer screening and preventive education for eligible low-income women.

     Under the pilot scheme, about 66 000 eligible women will be subsidised to undergo cervical cancer screening tests at 10 service centres of three service providers, namely the Centre of Research and Promotion of Women's Health of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, and United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service. The pilot scheme is implemented by the Department of Health (DH), acting as the overall administrator and co-ordinator.

     Cervical cancer screening is targeted at women aged 25 to 64 who have ever had sex and have no symptoms of cervical cancer. Women aged above 65 who have ever had sex and have never received screening should also be screened. Those eligible for the pilot scheme will be women who are Hong Kong residents and beneficiaries of one of the following forms of assistance:
Categories of assistance Service charge
1. Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Free of charge
2. Level 0 voucher under the Pilot Scheme on Residential Care Service Voucher for the Elderly
3. Waiver of medical charges under the medical fee waiving mechanism of public hospitals and clinics
4. Old Age Living Allowance (OALA)* $100 per visit
5. Low-Income Working Family Allowance
6. Work Incentive Transport Subsidy
7. Having a household member granted subsidy or remission under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme or the Kindergarten and Child Care Centre Fee Remission Scheme
* OALA recipients who are holders of the Certificate of Old Age Living Allowance Recipients (for Medical Waivers) will be exempted from payment.

     Announcing the programme details at a press conference today (December 12), the Head of the Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch of the DH's Centre for Health Protection, Dr Regina Ching, said that the pilot scheme aims at reducing the risk of developing cervical cancer among low-income women. The three service providers will reach out into the community directly or through other organisations to encourage low-income women receiving the above-mentioned assistance to receive free or subsidised cervical cancer screening as well as provide them with health education on prevention of cervical cancer.

     Dr Ching said, "In 2015, cervical cancer was the seventh most common form of cancer among women in Hong Kong. There were 500 new cases of cervical cancer, accounting for 3.3 per cent of all new cancer cases in females. In 2016, cervical cancer was the ninth leading cause of female cancer death, with 151 deaths recorded and accounting for 2.6 per cent of all cancer deaths in females."

     In 2004, the Government launched the territory-wide Cervical Screening Programme (CSP) in collaboration with healthcare professionals in the public, private and non-government sectors to encourage women aged 25 to 64 who have ever had sex to receive regular cervical cancer screening every three years after two normal consecutive annual screens. 

     The DH's Population Health Survey 2014/15 revealed that the proportion of women aged 25 to 64 who had ever received cervical cancer screening and who had been screened within the past three years were 59 per cent and 47 per cent respectively. Coverage was found to be lower among women with lower monthly household income.

     Also present at the press conference, the Junior Vice-President of the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Karen Chan, said, "Almost all cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with one of the cancer-causing or high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types. While there are many risk factors of cervical cancer such as multiple sex partners and smoking, the most commonly neglected risk factor is the failure to receive cervical cancer screening. Through regular screening, pre-cancerous cervical cellular changes can be detected early and treated to prevent progression to cancer."

     To increase the awareness of cervical cancer screening, the DH has launched a publicity campaign to disseminate the health messages through a variety of channels including an Announcement in the Public Interest, newspapers, online platforms, banners and advertisements. The DH has also been in liaison with non-government organisations and women's groups serving low-income families and ethnic minorities to seek their support in promoting cervical cancer screening and the pilot scheme.

     For more details, please see the leaflet attached or visit the DH's Cervical Screening Programme website (www.cervicalscreening.gov.hk) and the Community Care Fund website (www.communitycarefund.hk).
Ends/Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:40
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