Overcoming barriers to cervical cancer screening: New health innovation project empowers women to collect their own samples at home
MARKHAM, ON, March 8, 2018 /CNW/ - As the world celebrates International Women's Day, a team of Ontario health innovators is working to expand access to culturally safe HPV screening among new Canadians and Indigenous Peoples.
Although cervical cancer is highly preventable, only 61 per cent of eligible women in Ontario are currently getting screened with a Pap test. Barriers such as lack of awareness, transportation and cultural sensitivity remain, particularly for vulnerable communities. International research shows self-sampling is an effective way to empower women and reduce cervical cancer deaths among under and never screened populations.
Designed in Ontario, Eve Kit is a personal health screening system that allows women to collect their own sample, mail it to the lab for testing, and access their results through a secure website. In addition to privacy and convenience, Eve Kit offers validated diagnostic testing and is Health Canada licensed.
Building on the success of self-sampling programs globally, the health innovation team will work closely with community members to design a new culturally safe HPV testing program that aligns with Cancer Care Ontario's screening guidelines and is closely integrated with primary care for appropriate follow-up. The new model will provide evidence and insights to support broad adoption of HPV self-sampling within the public health care system.
The project is being led by Saint Elizabeth Health Care and includes partner organizations Eve Medical, Women's College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care, N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, Roche Diagnostics and Mount Sinai Services.
The Government of Ontario recently announced grants for 12 new projects through its Health Technologies Fund. HTF is a program of the Government of Ontario's Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS), administered by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The grant for this project totals $469,000, with matching in-kind contributions from the partner organizations.
"This project embodies the kind of collaboration that we need to innovate in health care – especially for underserved groups. It has been amazing to see a solution progress from need, to idea and development, and now community partnership and demonstration."
Jessica Ching, CEO, Eve Medical
"Health innovation is about empowering people and designing processes and experiences that work for them. With broad adoption, this proven patient-centred approach can help to reduce health inequities and improve access to care for underserved communities."
Shirlee Sharkey, CEO, Saint Elizabeth Health Care
- Cervical cancer is preventable when detected early
- There are 1,550 new cases of cervical cancer in Canada every year (Canadian Cancer Society, 2017)
- Immigrant and Indigenous women have lower rates of screening than the general population, putting them at increased risk for cervical cancer
- Many women, particularly those in hard-to-reach groups, prefer self-sampling to the Pap test, based on its convenience and privacy
About Saint Elizabeth
Saint Elizabeth is a national social enterprise providing home care, health solutions and education to people where they are and when they need it. With Canadian roots and more than 100 years of expertise, the not-for-profit charitable organization is accelerating health care innovation to support healthy lives globally. Through its team of 9,000 health leaders, Saint Elizabeth delivers 20,000 care exchanges daily, totaling 50 million in the last decade alone. Learn more at saintelizabeth.com or find us on social media.
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