Refusal by the Ministry of Health for photo competition in cervical cancer tests

He talks about misleading reports saying that the EU is asking the government for explanations for a “photographic” competition for free tests of cervical cancer” With a long announcement from the Ministry of Health, Euractiv’s reports, which say that the EU is asking the government for explanations, regarding a sudden change in the technical tender specifications for the screening programme, made with money coming from the Recovery Fund. We clarify that this is the free screening programme against cervical cancer, announced since 2022 and after many delays, is expected to begin eventually – except for a new unexpected – within the month, according to Health Minister, Irene Agaidaki. The Ministry of Health states that it has in fact set “high standards requirements in order to have the latest technology at sampling and laboratory analysis level” in HPV DNA TEST to diagnose cervical cancer, to ensure: high sensitivity and specificity. These standards, as mentioned, were drawn up following recommendations from the Ministry of Health Expert Committee. “We make it clear once again explicitly that we do not exclude anyone from participating in the programme as long as it meets the requirements, just as we give incentive to anyone who wants to participate, in order to serve citizens throughout the territory,” he specifically states in the announcement. Read the entire Health Ministry announcement The design of the uterine cancer prevention programme was based on the recommendations of the Committee of Public Health Experts set up by Law 4675/2020 and lays down the scientific protocol of each preventive programme, based on international and European standards and guidelines, with a view to the highest quality of public health services for citizens. The reports state that they ‘changed the criteria’ by making the competition a ‘photography’ with requirements which allegedly favour a particular company. At the same time, the specification providing for compulsory approval by FDA or WHO shall be reported as unnecessary. It is inconceivable that a program should be targeted as a supposedly photographic one and that there is a photographic competition, while we are talking about the Joint Ministerial Decision (CYA) which sets out the requirements for the participation of health providers (doctors, centres and laboratories) in the programme rather than for a competition. In other words, no one who has the high quality standards laid down in terms of the quality of public health and the level of health services provided to citizens is excluded. If any programme aimed at providing high-quality services is considered to serve interests, we should never set any quality criteria, because one would always be excluded. It is important for citizens to know that each preventive examination programme is carried out with the strictest quality criteria and scientific protocols, as dictated by the guidelines of the European Union and European and international scientific bodies. Indeed, the Ministry of Health has adopted the scientific recommendation of the Committee of Public Health Experts and is asking for the tests and reagents to be used for this examination to have a certification for primary population control for cervical cancer by high scientific authority organisations such as FDA and WHO. A simple search on the website of these organizations proves that there are many companies that meet these standards, several of which are also active in our country. For each product, whether it is a medicinal preparation or a medical device, it is necessary to have the most strict standards based on the high efficacy and safety of each product. That is what we are asking: the strictest standards and the highest efficiency. The Ministry therefore set high standards for the latest technology at sampling and laboratory analysis level to ensure: (a) high sensitivity: to detect the analysis even the minimal presence of HPV virus and any type of HPV virus and (b) high specificity: to detect the specific virus and not someone else, and to separate the specific type of virus associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. The reports state that the criterion of greater capacity is ‘not justified’ and that it ‘is of no practical importance’. According to scientific research assessing the quality of population programmes for cervical cancer prevention, Europe’s most successful country in HPV-DNA screening is the Netherlands. The Netherlands has reduced the number of laboratories carrying out the HPV-DNA test from 40 to 5 with a daily productivity of 450 samples per laboratory. Something that distinguished scientists in our country, at the 7th scientific conference on ‘HPV and Biomarkers in Obstetrics and Gynecology’ held in Larissa in December 2023, where they pointed out that we need to follow the model of the Netherlands, France and other countries in Europe that have few laboratories to carry out the analyses for the HPV-DNA test centrally, with state-of-the-art machines producing more than 300 samples per 8 hours, to ensure that on the one hand there is no interference of human hand in analysis, so that there is uniformity in terms of high quality and better management of results. They also cited the example of the Netherlands that is to further reduce the relevant laboratories from 5 to 3. We follow the best practices of countries that have the best results in preventing cervical cancer. This is our only priority. This is not a claim, but a demonstration of strong scientific evidence. We make it clear once again explicitly that we do not exclude anyone from participating in the programme as long as it meets the requirements, just as we give incentive to anyone who wants to participate, so that we can serve citizens throughout the territory. Source: