WHO's push to end cervical cancer

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WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

 Rohit Shishodia
The World Health Organization (WHO) on November 17, 2020,    launched its Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, by 2030 by adopting key steps including vaccination, screening and treatment.

The global health agency has pointed out that successful implementation of all these three could reduce more than 40% of new cases of the disease and 5 million related deaths by 2050. This is the first time that 194 countries commit to eliminating cancer - following adoption of a resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly.

The strategy includes full vaccination of 90% of girls with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age, screening of 70% of women using a high-performance test by age 35 and again by 45.

The strategy also emphasizes that 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment (90% of women with pre-cancer treated and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed).

The WHO has said that the strategy also stresses that investing in the interventions to meet these targets can generate substantial economic and societal returns.

As per the WHO figures, an estimated US$ 3.20 will be returned to the economy for every dollar invested through 2050 and beyond, owing to increases in women’s workforce participation. The figure rises to US$ 26.00 when the benefits of women’s improved health on families, communities and societies are considered.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Eliminating any cancer would have once seemed an impossible dream, but we now have the cost-effective, evidence-based tools to make that dream a reality.”

“But we can only eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem if we match the power of the tools we have with unrelenting determination to scale up their use globally,” he added.

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. It is also curable if detected early and adequately treated. Yet it is the fourth most common cancer among women globally.

Without taking additional action, the annual number of new cases of cervical cancer is expected to increase from 570 000 to 700 000 between 2018 and 2030, while the annual number of deaths is projected to rise from 311 000 to 400 000. In low- and middle-income countries, its incidence is nearly twice as high and its death rates three times as high as those in high-income countries.


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