Portugal honoured by the European Union with the Award for the Screening Programme in the Alentejo Region

Portugal was distinguished by the European Union, on the 21st of January 2009, with an award for the Regional Health Administration (RHA) in Alentejo for the Cervical Cancer Screening Programme.

This Programme includes the planning, organization and practice of Screening in the Alentejo Region, which is supported by First Solutions’ Screening platform, SiiMA® Rastreios.

Apart from the pride that comes from a Portuguese entity receiving a European award of such importance, the fact that First Solutions is associated as a technological partner of the RHA Alentejo in this project is also an honour.

First Solutions Multi-Screening Platform is leader in Portugal. It contemplates the entire functional circuit involved in the registration and follow-up of the user in all of the phases of the process, from the summoning of the patient to do the exam up to the treatment, and was created for the execution of screenings in terms of population usage, although it can also be used for more opportunistic screenings.


First  Solutions Screening Platform is still in its implementation phase in the Northern Region for the support of Cervical Cancer Screening, in the Lisbon and Tejo Valley Region for the support of Diabetic Retinopathy and Cervical Cancer Screening and the Central Region for the support of Colon and Rectum Cancer Screening, the latter having been extended to all of the country following the pilot phase which, at the moment, includes 31 Central Region RHA Health Centres.
The following news article, published by Agência Lusa, was based on the implementation of these National Screening Programmes, which are sustained by the First Solutions Technological Platforms.
“Portugal was distinguished in Brussels today by the European Cervical Cancer Association for the work developed towards the prevention of this disease, having Alentejo been awarded a prize for the screening performed in this region.
The distinction and the award for this screening  programme based on population and implemented by the Alentejo Regional Health Administration (RHA Alentejo) were given to Portugal at the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) summit in Brussels, in the European Parliament, in the scope of the 3rd European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.


ECCA characterised Portugal as having been an example in three levels of prevention, not only as having an excellent awareness campaign, but also by attacking the primary prevention with a vaccine and secondary prevention with screening”, explained the source for the Portuguese agency of the Ministry of Health.
The same source added that the “record time” in which the vaccine against the disease, which kills a woman a day in Portugal, was included in the National Vaccination Plan was also to be applauded.

The screening in Alentejo, which has been on-going since the beginning of 2008, was awarded a prize by ECCA for having been considered “the most reliable model, and which should be used in the rest of Portugal, as well as other European countries,” said the Ministry of Health source.
Rosa Matos, the president of RHA Alentejo, congratulated herself for this European recognition when contacted by Lusa, adding that the screening in the region has affected, in a year, nearly 20 thousand of its 110 thousand women between the ages of 30 and 65, meaning 17,400 cytologies having been done.

“This is the only screening  in Portugal based on organized population data, which means that we want to call all women in this region included in this age group in the next three years”.
According to Rosa Matos, 300 of the 20 thousand women showed lesions, all of them having been treated, and nine of which having already developed some level of cancer”.


“The screening allowed us to detect 300 lesions in different stages of evolution. However, we have managed to treat the women and, therefore, avoid more serious cases, such as death”, she stressed.

“Nearly three new cases of cervical cancer emerge every day in Portugal”, said the president of RHA Alentejo, justifying the importance of the disease being detected as early as possible so as to allow for treatment.

“If we can detect and treat these situations in time, we can avoid women’s death”, she affirmed, satisfied with the awareness campaign for the prevention and screening done in the region: “It has been good, but we must continue because it is not easy”.

For Rosa Matos, the award given by ECCA is a “victory for the Alentejo’s  women”, especially the “20 thousand that have been involved in the screening”.

“They are the ones that should be proud because it is for them that we have been working for”, she affirmed.


The source in the Ministry of Health who was contacted by Lusa explained that the expansion of this type of screening done in Alentejo is ongoing for the whole country.
“The Central region has had a screening for some years that is not up to par with the level of technical development existing in the programme used in Alentejo, however, it will be adapted, and the North of Portugal launched a pilot- screening in December which was expanded to more Health Centres”, said the source, adding that Lisbon, the Tejo Valley and the Algarve are “ready to launch” similar initiatives.
The screening programme in Alentejo includes 44 Health Centres and three Family Health Units in the region, as well as the Pathology Department (Anatomical Pathology) from the Évora Espírito Santo Hospital (which analyses all of the swabs collected) and the gynaecological appointments from the Portalegre, Évora and Beja Hospitals.
The screening, aligned with the priorities from the National and Regional Health Plans, has as its main objectives, the reduction of incidents and mortality as a consequence of cervical cancer in Alentejo, the promotion of treatment in time, the increase of the survival rate of women diagnosed with the disease, and the diagnosis of the asymptomatic women at an early stage.”