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Spotlight on access to cervical cancer vaccine

Wednesday November 17th 2021

The world could eliminate cervical cancer by providing access to vaccines, the World Health Organization says today.

Its report highlights the inequality in access to human papillomavirus vaccines, which cut the risk of cervical cancer.

Today is International Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action, the first anniversary of the launch of a WHO global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer.

In November 2020, 194 countries passed a resolution to make the issue a public health priority. Countries and communities around the world marked this movement with a day of action and the launch of local campaigns.

This year, the Day of Action brings new initiatives to end the disease.

The WHO state that: "Access to lifesaving tools is constrained, with women and adolescent girls in the poorest countries deprived of clinical screening facilities, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and treatments which those in affluent places take for granted."

At present, 90% of 10 deaths from cervical cancer occur in low and middle-income countries, with a much higher risk for women living with HIV.

Efforts have been made to widen supply of vaccines, to a further seven countries - Cameroon, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Mauritania, Qatar, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tuvalu - despite the COVID-19 pandemic. A fourth type of vaccine for HPV is currently in development and will aid diversity of the supply.

Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says: “Cervical cancer causes immense suffering, but it’s almost completely preventable and, if diagnosed early enough, one of the most successfully treatable cancers.

“We have the tools to make cervical cancer history, but only if we make those tools available to everyone who needs them. Together with our partners in the WHO cervical cancer elimination initiative, that’s what we aim to do.”

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | Pharmaceuticals | Women's Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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