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Investing in cervical cancer elimination to transform women's health globally

21 September 2022
Michelle Garsha, President of Diagnostic Solutions at Hologic

Michelle Garsha

President, Diagnostic Solutions, Hologic

In this post, Michelle Garsha details efforts by Hologic, a UICC partner to improving women’s health and well-being through the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer, empowering people to live healthier lives everywhere.

Cervical cancer, a highly preventable disease, remains a serious threat to women’s health. This burden is especially true in many underserved, under-resourced regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where more women die of cervical cancer than any other cancer. This is unacceptable, given the availability of preventive vaccines, early detection screening and diagnostic tools, and treatment options. 

At Hologic, we know from more than two decades of experience that the elimination of cervical cancer requires coordinated efforts and interconnected holistic prevention plans. Partnerships with key stakeholders across the continuum of cervical cancer prevention and treatment, such as ministries of health, advocacy organisations, global and local nongovernmental organisations, implementing partners, health care and laboratory providers, programme implementers and the private sector, is critical to ensure success in eliminating cervical cancer. We owe it to these women.

Championing health partnerships to expand cervical cancer screening

We continue to invest in and provide essential testing for cervical health, as well as expand access to this lifesaving screening for women worldwide through programmes like the Global Access Initiative (GAI), our solution to promote simple, scalable and sustainable access to cost-effective and quality diagnostic testing, such as HPV testing. In partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and MedAccess,  we launched this revolutionary programme in 2018. It creates an accessible pathway for healthcare in resource-limited settings where financial and operational challenges can create barriers to care and was designed to help countries overcome these barriers so their citizens can access crucial testing.

Transforming Women’s Healthcare, Together

We at Hologic are especially committed to addressing institutional barriers related to cervical cancer elimination worldwide. Our purpose is to enable healthier lives everywhere; our passion is to promote women’s health around the world; and our promise is to give women the highest degree of certainty in their health. 

None of it would matter if we weren’t working to build capacity of frontline health workers to deliver quality care for cervical cancer, partnering with others to offer solutions to the challenges that prevent women from being screened, as well as seeking new partners who share our determination to find innovative solutions. When our expertise combines with that of others, change happens.  

The change women deserve spans a long list of connected issues, all of which must be addressed, so we’ve developed a partnership strategy that, along with others, allows us to:

  1. Make cervical cancer screening accessible to all by leveraging our existing diagnostic infrastructure and transparent pricing structure to help countries mitigate the burden of disease.
  2. Strengthen health systems by improving diagnostic capacity to expand cervical cancer screening and training of frontline health care and laboratory professionals.
  3. Accelerate education, advocacy and awareness by developing a shared narrative and approach among stakeholders and leading large-scale research to track outcomes and impact. 
  4. Address infrastructure barriers and country action planning by developing localised systems for sample transportation,  result delivery, and patient follow-up.  

Accelerating the elimination of cervical cancer

While our ultimate goal is a cervical-cancer-free future for women everywhere, we know it is a journey. Like any journey, reaching milestones along the way not only reflects progress but adds momentum, especially when there’s no time to spare. We directly support one critical pillar in the World Health Organization’s 2018 global call for action to eradicate cervical cancer by 2030, and recognise the need to work with other partners across the patient journey to address each milestone: 

  • 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15 
  • 70% of women screened by the age of 30 years with regular screening every five to 10 years   
  • 90% of women with pre-cancer treated and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed 

The urgency to join forces to win this battle has never been more real, with cervical cancer cases continuing to rise. While I believe we can meet these goals, I also know that when we do, the fight won’t end there. We’ll need to sustain the partnerships that lead to these accomplishments so future generations of women will continue to receive affordable, accessible cervical cancer screening so that they may live long, healthy lives.

Michelle Garsha was named President, Diagnostic Solutions at Hologic in April 2022. Previously, she served as Vice President, Women's Health Diagnostics Solutions and held numerous roles in her 14 years at Hologic, including leadership roles in marketing, sales, strategic partnerships, scientific affairs and women's health advocacy. Ms Garsha joined Hologic in 2008 with the acquisition of Third Wave Technologies, where she developed molecular assays, including one of the first FDA-approved HPV tests. She believes fostering culture, driving performance and building highly engaged teams are central tenets of the Diagnostics Division's success. Ms Garsha holds a BS degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin, United States.

Hologic looks forward to attending and meeting partners at UICC’s World Cancer Congress. If you are interested in connecting, please send an email to hologic.UICC@hologic.com.

Last update: 
Wednesday 21 September 2022
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