The ICA-initiated Mobile Mammography Unit arrived last Friday at Tirza Women's Prison, marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As part of this activity, initiated screening tests for early detection of breast cancer were conducted among prisoners included in the target group.
The Mobile Mammography Unit is operated by a professional staff of Assuta Chain of Hospitals and Medical Institutes, the entity responsible for conducting diagnostic and detection tests. The Mobile Mammography Unit staff comprises women only.
This activity is a part of the close collaboration between the ICA and the Prison Services, which declared 2014 the "Correctional Officer and Prison Inmate Healthcare Year".
With the approach of the arrival of the Mobile Mammography Unit, the ICA held a preparatory lecture for inmates, on prevention and early detection of breast cancer, and a detailed explanation was provided on the screening exam and its importance. The lecture was delivered by Breast Health Coordinator, Pnina Gabai.
These tests required special logistical arrangements on the part of the Israel Prison Service, and a Mobile Mammography Unit was transported at night to Neve Tirza Prison several days prior to the scheduled visit, for coordination and preparation purposes. In addition, the screenings took longer than usual, for security reasons.
Photo credit: Dr. Leonid Geft, Israel Prison Service
Of 33 women in the target group, 27 women were tested. A small portion of the inmates expressed concern about getting checked, and ICA volunteers, who set up a public information booth on the premises, persuaded and encouraged them to undergo a screening, and they were indeed checked. The inmates expressed great appreciation for arranging this activity and thanked all the organizers.
The Chairperson of ICA's Ramle Branch, Ms. Rachel Harel, and volunteer Mrs. Sylvie Zarbiv recounted: "We are proud to be part of this noteworthy and potentially life-saving activity".
Michal Sapir, who is in charge of operating the Mobile Mammography Unit at Assuta, added: "The availability of this test within the prison walls is highly significant, and we will indeed be prepared to assist in promoting healthcare among inmates incarcerated in Israeli prisons".
The ICA purchased its first Mobile Mammography Unit, 'Michal' 13 years ago, with the aim of increasing compliance with mammography screening in women in Israel's geographical and social peripheries. Since the Mobile Mammography Unit began operating, its crucial importance has been proven on the ground, and gaps in compliance rates between the various sectors, and among ultra-Orthodox and new immigrant women, have been significantly narrowed, and the disparity between Jewish and Arab women has been completely eradicated.
In view of the high demand for the mammography unit services, an additional vehicle was purchased about two years ago, and today, two vehicles are operated by a professional medical staff of Assuta Hospital, in collaboration with all healthcare funds, performing about 25,000 screenings year round.
In addition to the encouraging data that have been reported by the ICA in Israel in recent years, which indicate a downward trend in breast cancer mortality and an increase in the number of breast cancer survivors, a WHO survey has demonstrated that Israel leads the European region in mammography compliance rates, while continually bridging the gaps. Early detection has a significant impact on coping strategies and treatment for the disease, and may significantly increase chances for a cure.
For more information about the Mobile Mammography Unit's activity, please contact the ICA Telemeida teleinformation service at: 1-800-599-995.