WHO: For the first time commits to eliminate cervical cancer globally

During its closing day of 73rd World Health Assembly, on November 17, 2020, the World Health Organization released the “Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer”. The international organization aims to reduce more than 40% of new cases by 2050 by screening, vaccination and treatment.

Background

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world. In the backdrop of COVID-19, the fight against cervical cancer has become challenging. The COVID-19 has eliminated the focus from other diseases and has interrupted vaccination.

What are the targets set?

The WHO has set to achieve the following targets under its “Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer” by 2030

  • To vaccinate 90% of girls of age 15 years with the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
  • To screen 70% women of age between 35 years and 45 years using high-performance tests
  • To identify at least 90% of women with cervical cancer disease.

Financial Estimates

The strategy adopted also stresses on investing in interventions to meet targets that can generate societal and economic returns by supporting the cervical cancer programme. According to the WHO, around 3.25 USD will be returned to the economy for every 1 USD invested in the cervical cancer programme.

Significance

According to WHO, the number of new cervical cancer cases are to increase from 570,000 to 700,000 between 2018 and 2030. Also, the annual number of deaths are to increase from 311,000 to 400,000. The strategy adopted will help reduce the number of cases.

Cervical Cancer in India

In India, cervical cancer contributes to 6% to 29% of all cancers in women. Also, India accounts to one-fourth of world cervical cancer deaths.

The National Cancer Registry Programme that was established by Indian Council of Medical Research acts as a surveillance system for all the cancers in India.

HPV Vaccine in India

The Bivalent and Quadrivalent HPV vaccines were licensed in 2008. The nonavalent was licensed in 2018. The demonstration projects of HPV vaccines were first started in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. However, due to a few deaths in these projects, it was suspended.

Since 2016, the HPV vaccines were introduced in Punjab, Sikkim, Delhi.

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