Political uncertainty delays breast screening programme

THE RESIDENT has learned this week that the recent political instability and changes in government have caused a delay in the commencement of the long-awaited Algarve breast screening programme. The mobile unit is complete with all the equipment and staff are also in place, but the Associação Oncológica do Algarve (AOA) is still waiting to receive the list of patients from Administração Regional de Saúde (ARS), the regional health authority. The AOA expected to meet with the ARS back in January (see The Resident’s January 21 edition) to obtain the lists and, with the mobile unit now being ready, they want to get started with this important programme as soon as possible. “It is absolutely crazy and very frustrating,” said Maria de Lurdes Santos Pereira of the AOA. “All we want to do is fight against cancer, but we can’t start the screening service until we receive the lists.” At the time of going to press, The Resident was informed that the AOA expects to have a meeting with the ARS on Monday, March 28 at which they desperately hope the lists will be delivered. When the programme is finally launched, women between the ages of 45 and 70, who are registered at a Centro do Saúde in the Algarve, will be called up to have their breasts screened. Two radiologists have been recruited to staff the unit that will be travelling around the region, basing themselves near the Centros de Saúde of each borough for the course of the screening sessions. Surprisingly, there has been no breast screening programme in the Algarve to date and it is hoped that there will be no further delays now in getting started with the AOA’s new service.