By Peter Ongalo
The World Health Organization(WHO) yesterday launched a global strategy to accelerate the elimination of Cervical Cancer. The strategy outlines three key steps: vaccination, screening and treatment of Cervical Cancer. WHO stated that successful implementation of all the three steps could reduce more than 40% of new cases of the disease and 5 million related deaths by the year 2050.
“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,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement in the WHO website. “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.”
This new development represented a historic and concrete milestone in global health because it marked the first time that 194 countries committed to eliminating cancer – following adoption of a resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly.
Meeting the following targets by 2030 will place all countries on the path toward elimination:
90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age
70% of women screened using a high-performance test by age 35 and again by 45
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 strategy also stressed that investing in the interventions to meet these targets can generate substantial economic and societal returns. 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.
Cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, is a preventable disease and it is also curable if detected early and adequately treated.
According to WHO ,if additional action is not taken, 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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