The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is marking the Breast Cancer Awareness month with the launch of new guidelines for Mammography Screening to improve the effectiveness and quality of screenings in public hospitals as a first phase of a bigger project related to Health Technology Assessment (HTA) for mammography screening in the country. A Ministerial decree was unveiled as well for the first time announcing that MoPH will cover the reconstruction surgery after mastectomy starting October.
The new adoptions were introduced during the 15th National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign press conference held at the Ministry of Public Health under the auspices of Mrs. Lama Tammam Salam, in collaboration with Roche Lebanon and the support of the Lebanese Order of Physicians, Order of Pharmacists, Order of Nurses, Order of Midwives, Syndicate of Private Hospitals, Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Society of Medical Oncology, Society of Radiology, patient support groups and the National Breast Cancer Committee.
Moderated by Malek El Sharif, the press conference underlined the concerns raised with regards the techniques clinical effectiveness, safety and interference with screening mammography while disclosing the implementation terms of the breast reconstruction operation’s new decree. Participants included Mrs. Lama Salam, Minister Wael Abou Faour, Dr. Naji Saghir, Dr. Faysal El-Kak, Dr. Joseph Makdessi, Dr Randa Attieh and Mrs. Olfat Berro.
The new guidelines will be launched and piloted in public hospitals in 5 regions – Beirut, Mount Lebanon, South, North and the Bekaa – the guidelines will address four fundamentals: technical aspect and clinical effectiveness of the mammography test, patient journey post mammography test and the process quality. The assessment will evaluate existing situations starting with the development and implementation of a guidance protocol on the mammographic aspects – both physical and technical – of breast screening to improve quality of mammography process in the Lebanese public hospitals. Thereafter, the assessment phase will start by the review, data collection and analysis to eventually deliver a final report after 12 months.
In continuation of last year’s campaign messages of consistently reminding our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends to prioritize their own health by getting their regular checkups and mammograms, there is always more we can do to help fight this disease. Whether affected by the disease directly, or anxious about our families health, the fight against breast cancer is relevant to everyone, and every individual can play an important role in tackling this challenge.
"Conducting regularly the self-breast exam and the yearly mammography starting the age of 40 is not an option but a must that every woman should be aware of,” said Lama Salam. “The Lebanese woman should not ignore her health, as the disease will not only affect her, but it will also impact her family. Thus, it is within the family’s responsibility to remind her when she forgets, overlooks or willingly neglects".
In support of this year’s campaign, the Ministry of Public Health will be lit in pink during the month of October acknowledging the fight against breast cancer; a fight so many women are familiar with. HE Minister of Public Health Wael Abou Faour also commented: “Today, our aim more than ever, is to be able to increase access and improve quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery in public hospitals and launching these guidelines is a step forward in this direction”.
“Developing products that significantly improve people’s lives is the central premise of our business. We believe that bringing innovative products to our markets and demonstrating clear medical value to healthcare providers is fundamental to sustainable success,” said Olfat Berro, Country Manager for Roche Lebanon. “To this end, we are actively involved in contributing to health technology assessments to provide quality assessment and benefit to patients.
The nation-wide awareness campaign is set to run for three months enabling women to gain access to discounted mammography exams which will remain available till end of December 2016. Participating private hospitals and medical centers across Lebanon will reduce their mammography fees to L.L. 40,000 whilst government hospitals will offer free mammograms during the entire phase of the campaign.
To expand the outreach of the core message to a wider target audience and impact more lives, the national committee of experts announced that the annual national program will involve more public lectures with municipalities and women NGOs that will be organized by the medical societies and the cancer patient support groups.
The campaign will also be promoted through educational leaflets and various media outlets including links on all leading Lebanese online portals and news sites. Last but not least, a special thanks goes for the ongoing support of the media and journalists who have been assisting this campaign with delivering and spreading the awareness message behind it.