As Ireland begins its return to normality, concerned women across the country are demanding their reproductive health is not forgotten
Phase Two of Ireland's post-Covid-19 reopening begins today, as retailers and businesses across the country open their doors to the public once again.
It is seen as a big step towards normality in the country, but as many rush to Zara and IKEA for a shopping spree, there are others who are worried that a more important cause is still being ignored.
CervicalCheck, Ireland's free cervical cancer screening service, has been paused since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived to Ireland earlier this year. The service allows anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 65 to have regular cervical screenings to check for the presence of abnormal cells.
Since the lockdown began, those concerned about cervical cancer across the country have been left waiting to wonder when the service will be resumed.
Across social media, calls for the screening service to be reinstated have become stronger and stronger, and today, as Phase Two of lockdown easing begins, users are questioning the logic behind the measures.
One user wrote "you can get a Big Mac but not a cervical cancer check", while another said "I can't get my overdue smear done next week (or anytime soon) but I can... shop in Brown Thomas for mascara? U should hang your head in shame".
Another woman has tweeted Minister for Health Simon Harris numerous times, updating each day that goes past that her cervical smear test goes overdue.
— Lauren Foley (@foleywan_kenobi) June 5, 2020
In Ireland, around 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Around 90 die.
According to the HSE, in women aged 25 to 39, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer.
Cervical cancer often does not have any symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is so important to keep up to date with regular smear tests. The most common symptom as it develops is abnormal bleeding, which can include bleeding between periods, unusual discharge or bleeding after sex.
Less common symptoms include pelvic pain and pain during sex.
A petition on Change.org has garnered over 31,000 signatures to reinstate cervical pap smears as the lockdown lifts. The petition states that CervicalCheck is "already a service tainted with failure", and asks "How can it be safe not to recommence screening? Cancer is never mild and it will not wait."
"With the current transmission rates of the virus, there is no reason why, with professional and safe conduct that Cervical Pap Smear testing, public and private, could not be performed in the community once more," it adds.
You can add your name to the petition here.
Minister Harris said earlier this week that a plan was being put together to resume cancer screenings "when it is safe to do so".
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