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Speaking with Viktória Naszvadi, Marketing & Communications Manager,  Mallow Flower Foundation (Mályvavirág Alapítvány), Hungary

Country Hungary
Date Posted June 2022
Viktória Naszvadi (left) & Icó Toth (right)
Viktória Naszvadi (left) & Icó Toth (right)

The Mallow Flower Foundation (Mályvavirág Alapítvány) was founded in 2013 by Icó Tóth. After the birth of her second child in 2011, Icó was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the extensive treatment that followed, Icó wished there had been an organization that she could turn to for support, with other people going through the same challenges. Since she couldn’t find one, after her recovery she established one herself. The Mallow Flower Foundation raises awareness about HPV and HPV-cancers, promotes the tools for prevention, and offers support to HPV-cancer patients.

In 2020, Viktória Naszvadi (Viki N.) got involved with the Mallow Flower Foundation in what she thought would be a project of a few weeks. Two and a half years later, she’s industriously implementing multiple projects and initiatives to raise public awareness about HPV.

Viki N: Coincidences occur everywhere. Icó, our director, served as the co-chair of ENGAGe (European Network of Gynecological Cancer Advocacy Groups), a sub-group of the European Society of Gynecological Oncology (ESGO) between 2019 and 2021, through which she learned about IPVS. She also visited the IPVS booth at the EUROGIN conference back in 2019. In January, she showed me the One Less Worry video, and we decided it would be great to translate it into Hungarian. So I contact IPVS about partnership with the IHAD Campaign.

IPVS: And in just a few short weeks you managed to translate the One Less Worry video with a Hungarian voice over and subtitles! Then in February, war unfolded next door in Ukraine, changing everything. Hungary found itself dealing with a significant influx of Ukrainian refugees, including cancer patients that urgently needed continued medical attention. Tell us what happened.

Viki N: Yes, we had planned a week-long campaign on social media, using One Less Worry materials along with our own. As the war between Russia and Ukraine escalated, we felt that it was not appropriate to ignore the situation. So although we did circulate the HPV awareness video on March 4th, we put our other plans on hold. However, it’s a shame you don’t understand Hungarian because the voiceover is really great!

We turned our attention to helping displaced Ukrainian cancer patients find appropriate care and support in Hungary (fortunately Ukrainians have access to health care here). We set up a separate page on our website called International Care, with the contact information of all of the Hungarian oncology centers and relevant non-profit organizations that patients can access. The website has received several hundred visitors, and in some cases, we were able to help individuals find doctors that spoke Ukrainian. We printed up a leaflet in Hungarian and Ukrainian with the website and contact information that is distributed it at the border points of entry into the country.

IPVS: Now it's the end of May, and the conflict in Ukraine unfortunately continues. However, the Mallow Flower Foundation is able to resume the HPV cancer prevention agenda. What will you be doing during the rest of 2022?

Viki N: We have several awareness projects with different target audiences running in parallel:

  • Mallow Teens Project – This idea for this project has come from ENGAGe Teens. It’s about informing teens (12-18) about HPV communicated at ‘kids’ level’. A small group of teenage volunteers will be involved in formulating and spreading messages about HPV and the importance of prevention to other teens on social media. It will be a ‘comic’ series on Instagram with stories that unfold day-by-day, so kids have to ‘follow’ the stories to know what happens. This project is just coming together now, our first meeting with the kids will be in June. We plan to launch it in September and it will run during the course of the school year.
  • School vaccination program - Outreach to parents: Parents of 7th grade children (aged 12-13) can ask for free HPV vaccination of their children in September when the school year begins. The HPV vaccine is available to girls since 2014 and for boys since 2020. Mallow Flower Foundation has started an informational email campaign at the end of May, sending brochures about HPV and vaccination to 2800 elementary schools. We encourage the schools to forward the information to parents. The email campaign will be repeated again in September at the start of the school year. Parents and their children must decide together about asking for the vaccination. In Hungary the vaccination rate of girls this age is about 80% and for boys about 70% (very high!)
  • Gladiolus (sword flower) Program: Many men mistakenly tend to think that HPV is a ‘female problem’ and are unaware of the risks for their own health! So we started the Gladiolus Program last fall, with a webpage to inform men about HPV and HPV-associated diseases that affect them.

IPVS: How will you measure the success of the Gladiolus program?

Viki N: We work closely with the Hungarian Society of Head and Neck Oncology on this program, relying on medical experts to strengthen the validity of our messages. Together we strive to make our voice louder and better heard across the country. We hope to find an influencer to help attract more attention among men to this important health issue.

IPVS: Do you think the IHAD Campaign them ‘One Less Worry’ works well in Hungary?

Viki N: (laughing) Actually, ‘One Less Worry’ sounds terrible in Hungarian. The literal translation turns into a long awkward phrase: ‘one thing that you should not worry about’. We would have liked to translate it according to the intention rather than the exact words. We had a similar situation with the ‘Make Sense’ Campaign from the European Cancer Patient Coalition and the European Head and Neck Society. ‘Make sense’ also sounds awful in Hungarian, so we changed it to ‘Grab cancer by the throat!’ which was very effective.

IPVS: You should have told us! We could have tried to work out that linguistic obstacle together. The IHAD Campaign is flexible about how partners frame messages, as long as the intention and meaning are aligned with the campaign. There are many instances where linguistic and cultural differences require tailoring to be effective in local contexts. Let’s work on that for Campaign 2023.

Viki N: For us, being involved with an international campaign like IHAD is helpful. Belonging to a network of organizations around the world that are all saying and doing the same thing adds legitimacy and validity to our efforts here. I think it has a deeper impact on people if they can see that it’s not just something the Mallow Flower Foundation is saying, it’s something global. And it nice that we can think together about ways to make the campaign more effective here in Hungary.

IPVS: Yes! That’s the way we like to work. Our partners implement this campaign, and we trust their judgement to tailor messages for effectiveness.

Viki N: There is one other thing I want to say about messaging. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week at the end of January is the busiest period of the year for us, so we have to bear that in mind when choosing our messages around HPV Awareness Day, in order to not become repetitive. Personally I think videos are the best way to raise awareness. So let’s make some more of those!

IPVS: Sounds good! Thanks for your time, Viki. And keep us posted with how your projects progress.

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