We can end deaths from cervical cancer. It’s a simple, but perhaps unknown fact that cervical cancer can be prevented and treated successfully at a very low cost. Yet, an estimated 528,000 women develop cervical cancer globally each year, and nearly 266,000 women die from the disease. Where you live should not determine if you live. As part of our global campaign, we’ve created a visual concept featuring a young girl, Grace.
Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Cervical Cancer Around the World
We have the opportunity to end deaths from cervical cancer. Through increasing access to preventive vaccinations and supporting diagnostic screening and testing which improve opportunities for the early detection and treatment of the disease, we can eliminate a cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 570,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, representing 6.6 percent of all female cancers. Almost 90 percent of deaths from cervical cancer will occur in low- and middle-income countries.
The opportunity to eliminate a cancer may sound like a herculean task, but coordinated efforts from governments, public health advocacy groups, NGOs, private industries and other interested parties can make it happen. That’s why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, was happy to join forces with a broad cross section of stakeholders in New York City last month for an in-depth discussion of what’s being done to eradicate cervical cancer globally. ACS CAN and five other sponsoring organizations hosted the panel on September 26, just as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held its annual meeting. The panel made clear that while much work remains to be done, the appetite for action in this effort has never been greater. We have the resources and the tools; now it’s time to act.
ACS CAN’s advocacy efforts in the campaign to eliminate this cancer have largely focused on integrating HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings into existing U.S. global health initiatives around the globe, particularly in Africa. Increasing access to preventive vaccinations, as well as screenings, will help stem the tide in the battle against cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer deaths are preventable, and interventions are proven and cost effective, we should be providing resources to protect women against this disease, just like we provide resources to save lives from AIDS. That’s why ACS CAN is so committed to engaging with federal policymakers on the issue, particularly by increasing education and awareness that global cervical cancer prevention is one of our mission priority issues.
It was a privilege to bring key stakeholders together for such an energized discussion on how we end this disease around the world. The meeting that was held in New York City on accelerating efforts to eliminate cervical cancer provided a comprehensive landscape of where things stand in the fight against cervical cancer. The global community needs to commit itself to this campaign and after last month’s meeting with such a diverse group of stakeholders, I’m confident we can take the action necessary to someday give every girl and women the peace of mind that cervical cancer won’t hold them back from leading a fulfilling life, regardless of where they live.
This article was previously published as a guest post for Global Health Council.