The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN programme for research in human reproduction (HRP) launched new guidelines on 6th July 2021 to help countries make faster progress in the elimination of this devastating disease. They include some important shifts to cervical screening and new recommendations specific to women living with HIV, who are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
“Effective and accessible cervical screening and treatment programmes in every country are non-negotiable if we are going to end the unimaginable suffering caused by cervical cancer,” said Dr Princess Nono Simelela, WHO Assistant Director-General for Strategic Programmatic Priorities: Cervical Cancer Elimination.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact. In 2020, more than half a million women developped cervical cancer, and over 340,000 women died as a result. Quick and accurate screening programmes are critical so that every woman with cervical disease receives adequate treatment and avoidable deaths are prevented.
WHO’s global strategy for cervical cancer elimination– endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2020 – aims to achieve:
UICC actively supports the elimination initiative and is also a consortium partner of the SUCCESS project (Scale Up Cervical Cancer Elimination with Secondary prevention Strategy). This Unitaid-funded project led by Expertise France focuses on the introduction and scale up of HPV testing and thermal ablation services to treat precancers with partners in Guatemala, Philippines, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, where screenings have recently started aligned with the new WHO and HRP guidelines.