The South Belfast MLA was speaking after news there had been a drop in the uptake of the tests among women here aged 25-29.
“It is increasingly recognised a public Health Service must be about prevention and, where appropriate, early intervention, and never more so than when it comes to the detection of cancer. Therefore it is concerning there has been a drop in the number of women attending,” she said.
“Women of all ages have to put their health first. The tests themselves take only five minutes but can be lifesaving. Since we know the age ranges where a significant number of women are not being screened, a targeted campaign by the Public Health Agency could make a significant and valuable difference.
“It should be emphasised 95% of tests find nothing abnormal, and even where there are abnormalities they can often be managed by monitoring alone. However, nothing beats being absolutely safe and cervical screening prevents 2,000 cases of cervical cancer every year in the UK. We owe it to ourselves and to society to reverse the trend and ensure more younger women attend screening as an easy preventative measure.”