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Valentin Tonchev: I would like to thank the European Cancer Organisation for the invitation to participate in my capacity as Chair of the Committee on Interaction with Civil Society in the forum “Together Against Cancer in Bulgaria”
Mar 26, 2024, 13:49

Valentin Tonchev: I would like to thank the European Cancer Organisation for the invitation to participate in my capacity as Chair of the Committee on Interaction with Civil Society in the forum “Together Against Cancer in Bulgaria”

Valentin Tonchev, a Member of the Parliament at the National Assembly in the Republic of Bulgaria, posted on LinkedIn:

” I would like to thank the European Cancer Organisation and especially Mike Morrissey and Prof. Jeliazko Arabadjiev, for the invitation to participate in my capacity as Chair of the Committee on Interaction with Civil Society in the forum ‘Together Against Cancer in Bulgaria’.

As we all know, cancer is an enemy that knows no bounds. It transcends race, gender, and socioeconomic status, affecting millions worldwide. Unfortunately, according to the latest EC report from 2023, Bulgaria is the only country in the EU with an increasing trend in cancer mortality.

Among the most common signals we receive at the Committee are from patient organizations and are related to gaps, insufficient reforms, and a lack of measures in the legislation in the field of healthcare and, in particular, oncology.

Examples such cases include:
The lack of guaranteed provision of biomarker diagnostics in full and simultaneously in a panel for all types of cancer. This prompted me to ask a question to the Minister of Health, who committed that 12 biomarkers, financed from the NHIF budget, will be provided in 2024;

I received a signal that there is no screening program for prostate cancer, although the NHIF has provided for these PSA tests to be performed every year. No organization has been created to screen 100,000 people by 2025, and another 100,000 by 2027;

Another signal, the screening for colorectal cancer in Bulgaria among the adult population aged 50-74, is the second lowest in the EU – 3.6%, compared to the EU average of 33.4%;

The National Program for Primary Prevention of Cervical Cancer for the period 2021-2024, about which I also received a signal and asked a question to the Ministry. There are no reported annual results for it. No awareness has been achieved among the target population groups, and the vaccination rate in Bulgaria for 2023 is 1.5%!

Despite this, I believe that there is hope amidst the grim statistics and discouraging challenges – the power of prevention. The success of any Vaccination program depends largely on the active engagement and participation of civil society. It encompasses a vast array of organizations, including advocacy groups, healthcare providers, educators, and active citizens, all of whom play a fundamental role in raising awareness, dispelling myths, combating disinformation, and promoting vaccine uptake in our communities. Civil society serves as a catalyst for change, capable of initiating conversations and stimulating public discourse around HPV vaccination.

The fight against cancer cannot be waged in isolation. It requires concerted efforts, a united front, and perhaps for the first time, we all have the chance – patients, politicians, specialists – to stand on one side in the fight against cancer. Only when we stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against cancer will we be able to protect the health and well-being of future generations.”

Source: Valentin Tonchev/LinkedIn