November 17 marks the beginning of an innovative global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer. It involves 194 countries that committed to three objectives in order to stop the progression of this cancer, the fourth most common cancer in women.
On, 17 November 2020, 194 countries under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) committed themselves to fight cervical cancer. This global strategy, the first of its kind to defeat cervical cancer, focuses on three areas: vaccination, early detection, and treatment.
“The enormous mortality burden caused by cervical cancer is the result of decades of neglect by the global health community. But the scenario can be rewritten,” said WHO Deputy Director-General Princess Nothemba Simelela.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. It is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). If nothing is done, the WHO estimates that by 2030 the number of cases will increase from 570,000 to 700,000 per year and the number of deaths associated with the disease from 310,000 to 400,000 per year. Cervical cancer spares no country but is devastating in low-income countries. The incidence of cervical cancer is twice as high and the mortality associated with it is three times higher among the poorest women.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 17, 2020
3 targets to prevent millions of deaths by 2050
To prevent the spread of the disease, the WHO proposes three objectives to be achieved by 2030:
- To vaccinate 90% of young girls against HPV before the age of 15
- Screening at 35 and 45 years of age for 70% of women
- To treat 90% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer and women with pre-cancerous lesions
If these three steps are achieved, the WHO hopes to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by 40% by 2050 and save 5 million lives. An ambitious strategy that starts in a difficult health policy context, where all efforts are focused on the fight against Covid-19 at the expense of screening and treatment of other diseases. The issue of cervical cancer also goes beyond public health, as it is closely linked to women’s rights and access to health care.
The WHO has estimated that for every dollar invested by the United States by 2050, the equivalent of $26 will flow into the U.S. economy, as women contribute to the economy and the labor market and families, communities, and societies benefit from improved women’s health.
If the WHO strategy is successful, the burden of cervical cancer may become a distant memory.