Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix and is usually caused by a chronic infection with certain human papillomavirus (HPV) strains.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide, with 570,000 new cases and 311,000 deaths in 2018. Nearly 90% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. However, it is highly preventable and treatable in countries where screening tests and HPV vaccines are readily available.
The WHO recently published a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a worldwide public health problem within a century. To do so, the following targets must be reached worldwide by the year 2030.
- 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age, achieved by providing sufficient supply of affordable HPV vaccines and introducing them into more countries’ national immunization programs
- 70% of women are screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age by increasing the quality of testing and promoting a national scale-up of screening and treatment programs
- 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment and care by strengthening health system capacity and providing affordable, sustainable supply of priority medical devices and essential medicines
To help countries worldwide reach this target, the WHO is committed to promoting a monitoring and surveillance framework, including population-based cancer registries. The organization will also work with partners to expedite research and new technologies.
Dr Princess Nono Simelela, assistant director-general for family, women’s and children’s health at WHO, believes that, “Elimination of cervical cancer as a global health issue is within reach for all countries. We know what works, and we know how to prevent and control this disease.”The final version of this global strategy will be presented for consideration by the 73rd World Health Assembly in January 2020.