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The Romanian Palace of Parliament, illuminated in turquoise for World Cervical Cancer Elimination Day

Three years after the launch of the Global Strategy to Eliminate Cervical Cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO), Romania joins the awareness efforts by lighting up the world's second-largest building – the Palace of Parliament – in turquoise.

"The involvement of the Renașterea Foundation in initiatives dedicated to fighting cervical cancer reaffirms our purpose over the more than 22 years of existence, namely to inform women about the importance of prevention, regular medical check-ups, and early detection of gynecological conditions. The steps our country has taken in the last three years to improve awareness regarding prevention, expand access to vaccination, and promote the importance of Pap and HPV tests for the early detection of cervical cancer are vital for the health of women in Romania"

Mihaela Geoană, Founding President, Renașterea Foundation

Organized by the Renașterea Foundation, the turquoise lighting marks three years of progress made in Romania in the prevention and fight against cervical cancer, including facilitating access to HPV vaccination. Currently, cervical cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer diagnosed in Romania among women of active age 35-44 years. HPV infection is involved in 99% of cervical cancer cases, in the development of genital warts, and other types of male or female genital cancers (penile, vaginal, or vulvar), anal and oropharyngeal cancers. HPV vaccination is almost 100% effective in preventing most infections that produce cervical lesions.

In 2022, over 3300 new cases of cervical cancer and 1700 deaths were recorded in Romania. The incidence is 2.5 times higher than the EU average, and the mortality rate is more than 4 times higher, these data placing our country first in the European Union in terms of incidence and mortality associated with cervical cancer.

The World Health Organization launched the Global Strategy to Eliminate Cervical Cancer in 2020, setting the goals for the elimination of cervical cancer as 90% vaccine coverage in girls aged 11-15, 70% coverage with organized screening services for women aged 35-45, and 90% of women detected with cancer to be taken into treatment. Moreover, for countries with a high incidence of cervical cancer, IARC/WHO recommends focusing efforts on increasing HPV vaccine coverage.

During the event, Cătălina Negară, executive director of the Renașterea Foundation, presented the project “Rethink and Reduce Inequalities in HPV Vaccination through Personalized Communication & training, based on social innovation and behavioral determinants of health”. This project is co-funded by the European Union through the EU4Health Program and is implemented by a consortium composed of the Renașterea Foundation for Women's Health (coordinator), the Centre for Innovation in Medicine, and the Eurocomunicare Association (as partners), along with the European School of Oncology (associated partner).

The project is implemented from February 2023 to January 2025 and aims to change narratives and reduce inequalities in HPV vaccination between and within countries through customized communication and training, based on innovation and social evaluation, and targeted interventions on the behavioral determinants of health.

At the initiative of the Ministry of Health, starting from December 2023, the HPV vaccine will become more accessible also for women between 18 and 45 years old who did not benefit from HPV vaccination in adolescence, being able to acquire the HPV vaccine under a compensated regime.

"Prevention policy in the field of cancer is a priority of the Ministry of Health, which has fundamentally changed the way access to HPV vaccination is made by introducing full compensation of the vaccine for girls and boys aged 11-19 and by introducing 50% compensation for women aged 19 to 45"

Minister of Health, Prof. Alexandru Rafila

In this context of transformation and progress, the efforts of the authorities are supported not only by solid partnerships with non-governmental organizations but also with the private sector. The collaboration between these entities plays an essential role in amplifying awareness messages and implementing effective strategies to combat cervical cancer, in a context where both the HPV vaccination rate (approximately 10%) and the percentage of women over 15 years old who have benefited from a screening test for cervical cancer (30%, compared to the EU average, 59.5%) are much lower than in other European countries.

Uniting through awareness symbolized by the turquoise lighting has become a powerful means of solidarity among people in the fight against cervical cancer. Such actions encourage conversations and promote a sense of community among patients, survivors, doctors, and supporters. As awareness is further increased through these symbols, the involvement of communities in the process of improving treatments, supporting patients, and working towards a future free of the burden of cancer is also strengthened.

Organizations around the world mark November 17 as the Global Day for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, and over 100 buildings are illuminated in turquoise.

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
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