Kirklees Council Public Health department, Public Health England (embedded within NHS England) and a local community centre (the Eden Foundation) have been working in partnership to increase screening uptake in Muslim communities.
The project involved engaging Muslim communities to understand the barriers which prevent or deter access to breast and cervical screening in particular.
The partnership held bowel screening awareness events separately for Muslim males and females, with a mix of ages and generations which helped those who could not speak English as others could translate on their behalf. This also initiated an inter-generational approach, highlighting the importance of educating younger people around cancer screening programmes and symptom awareness, enabling them to support and encourage older generations to partake in screening.
This continued collaboration and the success of the bowel screening event led to further conversations on the promotion of breast and cervical screening with the Eden Foundation.
During ongoing discussions, it became clear how influential Muslim scholars can be in the decisions the community and it’s members’ make.
Various conclusions were drawn from the event, in particular, understanding of the multi-faceted barriers and the influences relating to Muslim communities. Many of the barriers towards screening are not exclusive to the Muslim community, and were concurrent across a variety of ethnicities, such as issues of privacy and dignity. The lack of knowledge was cited as the biggest barrier.
There are many initiatives which could be employed within the community to address the many barriers highlighted in this report. Whilst this conference was local, any findings can be applied to Muslims across a variety of ethnicities in the UK due to the same Muslim identity.
To read the full report please see here: Kirklees Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Muslim Communities.