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Tirana, Albania - The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Albania, Ms. Zineb Toumi-Benjelloun and the Albanian Minister of Health, Mr. Ilir Beqaj, attended the 3rd International Conference on breast and cervical cancer under the motto: "Decided against cancer - side by side with women to prevent it".

"Decided against cancer - side by side with women to prevent it"

The event was organized by the Institute of Public Health with the support of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the population on screening for breast and cervical cancer, in collaboration with the Service of Oncology at the University Hospital Centre "Mother Teresa", the Association of Oncology Albania, Milan Institute of European Oncology (IEO), under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.

Speaking about the current initiatives of the Government of Albania in the battle against cancer, the Minister of Health stressed that more must be done about prevention, turning the attention to health rather than the diseases.

Minister Beqaj called for more awareness raising and responsibility from all, underlining the relevance of check-ups as a very effective prevention measure. He also emphasized that "regardless of what the nature of financial means is, be it state, private insurance or pocket money, we should start to use it in a smarter way."

Ms. Zineb Touimi Benjelloun, the UNRC in Albania, highlighted the importance of investing in prevention and services: "Not investing in cancer services has both economic and health impacts. While it can be expensive to invest in cancer care, the costs of doing nothing are higher. A healthy workforce is essential to a strong economy."

Ms. Benjelloun praised the continuous support of UNFPA initiatives for building more organised and systematic health care services in the country, while she also confirmed that "We at the UN will continue to work closely with Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection and access to quality essential health-care services with a focus on the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations."

Doctors and public health specialists at the conference shared important data on the fight and prevention of tumor diseases in Albania. Attending the event were two Italian oncologists, Dr. Alberto Luini and Dr. Giovanna Gatti, and the Italian activist Ms. Paola Conca who encouraged cancer prevention through sport and lifestyle.