[WATCH] Cancer screening should be coupled with awareness, PN MEP says

Francis Zammit Dimech praises the government colorectal screening programme but says this should come with increased awareness

PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech unveiled the party's proposals to fight cancer. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech unveiled the party's proposals to fight cancer. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Francis Zammit Dimech says cancer screening should be coupled with awareness

The fight against cancer starts with healthy food at school, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and more awareness campaigns, PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said.

Fronting the Nationalist Party’s proposals to fight cancer, Zammit Dimech said funding for cancer research also had to increase.

The PN MEP unveiled the party’s proposals on Monday outside Mater Dei Hospital in the presence of the PN MP Stephen Spiteri, who shadows the health portfolio.

Zammit Dimech praised the government for extending the age cohort for those eligible for free colorectal cancer screening but insisted more had to be done to raise awareness.

"It's great that the government extended the age bracket for free colorectal screening… [but] the turnout is still rather low," he told MaltaToday. 

The PN MEP said that the colorectal screening turnout is 55%, breast cancer is slightly better at 60%.

This meant, he argued, that 45% of colorectal screening candidates could still very well be at risk and this could be owed to a lack of awareness.

"The fight against cancer is a priority for the PN. It had pioneered screening programmes, and raised awareness for breast cancer," he said, adding that even at European Parliament level, this had been a priority for him.

The proposals target healthy food provisions in schools, the limitation of advertisements and publicity of unhealthy lifestyles and diets, investment of EU funds in local council awareness campaigns, increased funds for cancer research and population-based screening for the common prostate cancer.

"These proposals were the conclusion of meetings with several stakeholders: cancer patients and their relatives, doctors, specialists and all the cancer NGOs like Puttinu Cares and Hospice Malta," Zammit Dimech said, adding that he had invited these same NGOs to speak at the European Parliament in Brussels. 

The PN MEP also thanked outgoing President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca for her help in pushing for the National Cancer Platform to become affiliated with the European Cancer League.