Europacolon Portugal Successfully Implements Pilot Project

March 22, 2024

The ‘+INTESTINO’ initiative, held from 16 – 27 October marked a significant step in promoting health and raising awareness about colorectal cancer within the Afro-descendant community. It represented an important public health initiative, which has led to colorectal cancer screening amongst the Portuguese population, with a particular focus on the Afro-descendant community. This is a European Project, with the support of Global Healthcare Projects and Synlab, that chose Europacolon Portugal to implement a pilot project.

The project, designed as a screening pilot, stood out for its proactive approach and focus on prevention, early identification and effective treatment of this disease that affects millions of people around the world and in Portugal, with 12 cases per day and 4.000 deaths every year.

Understanding the importance of adapting health strategies to meet the specific needs of diverse communities, the ‘+INTESTINO’ initiative sought to overcome cultural, social, and health barriers that can impact access to prevention and care services.

By targeting its efforts to the Afro-descendant community, the project recognised existing health disparities. It sought to create solutions that would promote equity in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer.

One of the main barriers to colorectal cancer prevention is limited access to screening programs. Often, minority communities face specific challenges, such as lack of information, language barriers, lack of access to their family doctor, and transportation difficulties.

During the period of the initiative, screening services were offered, such as early detection tests and educational sessions on the importance of gut health. These efforts aimed not only to identify cases of colorectal cancer in early stages but also to empower the community with crucial information about prevention and the adoption of healthy habits.

The screening was carried out through a Mobile Unit, which will circulate in several parishes and neighbourhoods of the Municipality of Amadora.

The Mobile Unit was in the following locations:

• Cova da Moura – October 16th to 20th (at the Alto Cova da Moura Social Solidarity Association)

• Casal da Mira – October 23rd and 24th (Solidarity Space of the Portuguese Red Cross Delegation)

• Alfornelos – October 25, 26 and 27 (Teófilo Braga Square)

In addition, the ‘+INTESTINO’ initiative has stimulated the creation of partnerships between health professionals, community organisations and local leaders, promoting a holistic approach to tackling colorectal cancer. Awareness of the importance of screening has been intensified through educational campaigns, community events, and the distribution of informational materials.

Our Partners were very important in determining the success of this project, namely:

  • Global Healthcare Projects
  • Red Cross, Amadora Delegation
  • School of Health of the Portuguese Red Cross
  • Alto Cova da Moura Social Solidarity Association
  • Cultural Association “Moinho da Juventude”
  • Angolan League Against Cancer
  • Cape Verdean League Against Cancer
  • Encosta do Sol Parish Council
  • Amadora City Council
  • National Association of Pharmacies
  • Association of Pharmacies of Portugal
  • Pharmacy “Farmácia da Igreja”
  • Synlab Portugal

The results and learnings gained during this pilot project not only directly benefited the participants but also served as a model for future public health initiatives targeting specific ethnic groups.

It is very important to spread the word that there are barriers that contribute to the lack of knowledge about colorectal cancer.

Among them are:

The fear of having a colonoscopy and leaving the office with negative news. But the truth is that the earlier the diagnosis is made, the greater the chance that there will be a treatment that stabilizes the disease!

Lack of trust in the doctor or the health system is another factor that prevents people from having a timely diagnosis and, therefore, more chances of treatment

• Exclusion, Europacolon Portugal believes that access to health care should be for all, not leaving aside the most vulnerable populations

Shame, because the disease involves a part of the body that is rarely talked about

The numbers

We were able to involve more than 1.000 people in this screening, capturing their attention and raising awareness of a disease which is a global scourge. We have achieved an adhesion rate of 75.4%, which is a very high number and has never been achieved in Portugal.


‘+INTESTINO’ initiative has not only broken the silence around colorectal cancer but has also fostered a cultural shift in the approach to health, encouraging the community to become more active in promoting wellness and seeking preventive care. Thus, the ‘+INTESTINO’ initiative not only stood out as a crucial action in the fight against colorectal cancer but also highlighted the need for personalised and culturally sensitive approaches to address specific health challenges in diverse communities.

Ruel Jacob

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