The recommendations of the Medicines Basket Committee were approved yesterday (Sunday) by the government, for the introduction of new treatments and technologies that will receive public funding at a total cost of NIS 650 million. One of the decisions of the Hasel committee was to expand the eligibility for screening tests for cervical cancer, a decision that was made in the midst of cervical cancer awareness week, which took place last week, and deals with raising awareness for preventive vaccination and early detection of the disease, which is considered one of the most common types of cancer.
“This is significant news for many women in Israel,” says Dr. Roital Linder, in charge of the Cervical Clinic at Rambam, who serves as a senior physician in the women’s department and the gynecological-oncology unit at the medical center, “the number of women we see in recent years with suspected cancer or cancer is increasing within the age groups that the basket decision refers to. Women who would not perform screening tests because of age considerations or financial considerations, can now perform simple and life-saving tests.”
According to the decision of the Medicines Basket Committee, starting this year screening tests to detect precancerous lesions of the cervix will be funded for women aged 55-65, once every 5 years, for whom the performance of the test until now depended on medical insurance funding, as well as for women over the age of 65 who have not undergone a PAP test, which was accepted in the past, or an HPV strain test, which is now accepted, during the last decade. These will be entitled to one screening test – an HPV test every 5 years as the first test, and a PAP test every 3 years, in case the HPV test was not normal.
“99% of cervical cancer cases originate from the papilloma virus,” explains Dr. Linder, “today we encourage teenagers to receive the vaccine, which has been proven to be effective in preventing infection with the virus. The emphasis on these ages is the knowledge that at these stages there is an increased risk of infection due to sexual intercourse, but even at later ages we encourage women to perform simple screening tests, once a period, funded by the funds, in order to reach a state of early detection and prevention of the development of cancer or treatment of it in stages Early. The population of women aged 65 and over are also at risk of infection. In the past we paid less attention to these women, but now – with the change brought by the new basket of medicines, these women also get the opportunity to be tested under certain conditions and I ask each and every one of them to exercise this right and maintain their health.”