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Recently I attended the International Federation for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology conference in Orlando (yes quite a title, so let’s reduce it to IFCPC!) where I was invited to speak about the psychosocial barriers to screening. This gave me the opportunity to talk about some of the research we have undertaken to better understand these issues and the work we have been dong to try to and tackle them in order to improve awareness, understanding and uptake.
With coverage at a 19 year low, improving uptake is vital. I focused on women aged 25-29, those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and women with a learning disability, key groups of women attendance is particularly low. For example only around 20% of women with a learning disability attend and huge health inequalities exist which need addressing.
I reminded everyone in the room about the vital role of the patient voice in influencing health improvement and the need to listen to patients to help inform initiatives. I am very proud, if not surprised, that it seems that Jo’s is one of the largest, if not the largest, patient led cervical cancer charity in the world. At IFCPC the majority of the people in the room were clinicians so it provided a great opportunity to show how a patient led charity can build relationships across the board in order to find solutions and influence policy change, this includes with the public, clinicians, the research community, screening experts, politicians and public sector.
For me, being asked to speak at the conference is an example of how awareness of the charity and our work has grown and I am so proud that our influence and position is continually being recognised. Being given a platform outside of the UK is so very important. Yes we are a UK registered charity but I strongly believe that we have a duty to share best practice as far and as wide as possible and take the opportunity to learn from others. Worldwide cervical cancer takes the life of a woman every two minutes and we must all work together to ensure this horrendous statistic is reduced by increasing access to and knowledge of prevention programmes and early diagnosis.
This week I am at The British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology Annual Scientific Meeting where again we will be presenting on the importance of patient experience and input. This time the focus is on colposcopy and it is a privilege to represent and give a voice to the thousands of women who are invited for colposcopy every year.