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Breast Cancer Prevention  

 

In the United States, it is customary for women over the age of forty to receive annual mammograms for early detection of breast cancer.  In Lithuania, many women have not yet received a single mammogram.  For many years, access to free mammograms was limited to women who were referred by a physician or were over the age of 50.  Otherwise, women were charged approximately 50 LTL ($19 US), (monthly minimum wage, 300-500 LTL) for the procedure at public clinics or 100 to 1,000 LTL in private diagnostic centers.  In 2007, Lithuania’s health care system began to provide free mammograms to all women between 49 and 60 years of age.  Nevertheless, women in small towns and rural areas often lack transportation to mammography facilities that provide free testing.   

 


LML Annual Mammogram Program  

 

Without education and timely screening, Lithuania’s survival statistics were dismal with as many as one in two women tested dying from the disease.  LML first responded by distributing pamphlets promoting early screening.  Next, LML initiated an annual free screening program in 2003.  LML coordinates free transportation, courtesy of the local governments, to bring women from smaller towns and rural areas to oncology centers in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevežys and Kaunas.  Special provisions are made to accommodate women with disabilities. From 2003-2008 this project provided screening mammograms to over 1,300 women annually, diagnosing several women in time for life-saving treatment.  To date, this program reached over 7,800 disadvantaged women across Lithuania from these cities, districts and surrounding regions:

 

Adomynė,  Akmenė, Anykščiai, Ariogala, Avižėnai,Avižų, Babtai, Balsiai, Biržai, Daugiliškis, Dambrava, Didžašalis,  Didžioji Riešė, Diliauskai, Dolmenkava, Dominikova, Eišiškė, Elektrėnai Ežerskė, Garliava, Gipiškaičiai, Griešiai, Grigiškė, Jonava, Joniškis, Jurbarkas,  Kaišiadorys, Kalneliškis, Kaunas, Kėdainiai, Kelmė, Klaipėda, Kretinga, Krinčinas, Kudirkos Naujmiestis, Kupiškis, Lazdijas, Lentvaris, Maišiagala Makiškėliai, Mariampolė, Mažeikiai, Meškaliauskio kaim., Molainiai, Molėtai, Naujoji Akmenė, Nemenčinė, Neringa, Nureonys, Paberžė, Pakruojis, Palanga, Pandelys, Panevėžys, Pasvalys, Paupėniai, Plungė, Prienai, Radviliškis, Ramygala, Raseiniai, Raubonys, Raudondvario, Rokiškis, Šakiai, Šakių Šilalė, Salačkonys, Šalčininkai, Saločiai, Saločkoniai, Šiauliai, Šilainiai, Šilalė, Šilutė, Širvinta, Skaidiškės, Skuoda, Švenčionys, Švenčionėliai, Tauragė, Telšiai, Ukmergė, Utena, Vaišvydava, Vilnius, Vilkaviškis, Visaginis, Vistyčiai, Žibartoniai, Žilpamušis, Zujūnai, and many small neighboring villas.

 

 

LML’s initiative inspired other similar outreach programs such as Avon’s breast cancer programs and Nedelsk! (Don’t Delay!) to also travel widely across Lithuania’s countryside to thirty-one towns and villages, supported by our active participation.   

 

Recognizing the lack of adequate healthcare access among recently immigrated Lithuanian women in Chicago, LML arranged for the Cook County Mammogram bus to provide free testing and screening at the Balzekas Museum in Chicago.  

 


Suicide Prevention 

 

Sadly, Lithuania’s suicide rate is one of the highest in the world.  As reported by Lithuania’s State Mental Health Center www.vpsc.lt, in 2005 the suicide rate reached an alarming 39 per 100,000 residents.  In his article, Justin Webster, cites it to be the leading country in suicide (www.insightnews.com).  In comparison, the rate among European Union nations ranged from 10 - 20 per 100,000.  Lithuania’s suicide rate in rural areas was twice as high and the rate among males is five times higher than females. Approximately 1500 Lithuanians commit suicide every year.  According to mental health experts, each tragic death touches at least 5-7 others. Given these facts, public health experts consider suicide an “epidemic” in Lithuania.  

 

Alarmed by these statistics, LML is appealing to donors to help us fund a suicide prevention program, specifically to address suicides among Lithuania's youth.  Without effective prevention programs, Lithuania can not be expected to overturn  the dismally high rate among teens and young adults (age 15-24).  In general, most suicides among young people are preceded by several attempts or clear warning signs that require immediate attention.

   

To decrease suicides among Lithuania’s youth, LML will support the Youth Psychological Aid Centre (YPAC), www.jppc.lt, or Jaunimo Psichologinės Paramos Centras.  Established in 1993, YPAC is a non-government, non-profit organization that reaches out to youths across Lithuania.  Working with only 12 staff and 120 trained volunteers, YPAC’s innovative programs include:

  • Youth crisis hotline

  • Mobile Crisis Intervention Group

  • Internet counseling program with “Letters to a Friend”

  • Social and Psychological Counseling

  • Website and Information Program

  • Day Care Center for At-risk Children and Families

  • Suicide prevention concert “Choose Life” in 2006 attended by 10,000

To learn more about the suicide epidemic in Lithuania, visit:


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