Cervical Cancer / Cervix
An image depicting 2 health professionals searching for cervical cancer.

World Leaders Pledge $600m Towards Cervical Cancer Elimination

Global health donors have pledged nearly $600 million towards eliminating cervical cancer at the first global forum dedicated to fighting the disease.

The new funding from governments, donors, multilateral institutions, and partners, includes $180m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $10m from the United Nations Children’s Fund, and $400m from the World Bank.

According to the World Health Organisation, in a statement noted that if the ambitions to expand vaccine coverage and strengthen screening and treatment programmes are fully realised, the world could eliminate cancer for the first time.

These commitments were made at the first-ever ‘Global Cervical Cancer Elimination Forum: Advancing the Call to Action’ in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, meant to catalyse national and global momentum to end this preventable disease.

Every two minutes, a woman dies from cervical cancer. Vaccination against human papillomavirus– the leading cause of cervical cancer – can prevent the vast majority of cases and, combined with screening and treatment, provides a path to elimination, according to WHO.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and continues to disproportionately impact women and their families in low and middle-income countries.

Nigeria launched its HPV vaccine national programme in October, adopting the single-dose schedule for girls nine to 14 years old, and now commits to achieving at least 80 per cent vaccine coverage of girls targeted by 2026.

The commitments announced at the forum mark a watershed moment to accelerate progress on a promise made in 2020 when 194 countries adopted WHO’s global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We have the knowledge and the tools to make cervical cancer history, but vaccination, screening and treatment programmes are still not reaching the scale required,”

“This first global forum is an important opportunity for governments and partners to invest in the global elimination strategy and address the inequities that deny women and girls access to the life-saving tools they need.”

In addition to a re-commitment by Indonesia to its National Action Plan 2023, the Democratic Republic of Congo committed to introducing the HPV vaccine as early as possible using the WHO-recommended single-dose schedule, and Ethiopia committed to implementing a robust vaccine delivery strategy across the country, targeting at least 95 per cent coverage in 2024 for all 14-year-old girls.

The WHO noted there are many challenges on the path to cervical cancer elimination, adding, “Due to supply constraints, delivery challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, just one in five eligible adolescent girls were vaccinated in 2022. While there are cost-effective and evidence-based tools for screening and treatment, fewer than five per cent of women in many LMICs are ever screened for cervical cancer.

“Health system constraints, costs, logistical issues, and lack of political will have created obstacles to implementing comprehensive programs for cervical cancer prevention and treatment.

“These barriers have led to deep inequity: of the estimated 348,000 cervical cancer deaths in 2022, over 90 per cent took place in LMICs. With governments and partners recommitting urgently to the global agenda, it is possible to reverse the tide and prevent annual deaths from rising to 410,000 by 2030, as currently estimated.”

SOURCE: HealthWise