WHO urges countries to scale up cervical cancer vaccination

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WHO urges countries to scale up cervical cancer vaccination

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that countries are likely to experience an increase in cases of cervical cancer and deaths if urgent action to scale up vaccination against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is not carried out.

The organisation, in a report released on Wednesday, said that current disparity in survival from cervical cancer which carried between 33 to 77 per cent was unacceptable and could be minimised.

According to WHO, each year more than 300,000 women die of cervical cancer and nine out of 10 women who die from the disease were from poor countries.

The organisation said that rising cases of cervical cancer deaths was undermining health gains for women in the area of maternal health and HIV care.

“Urgent action is needed to scale up implementation of proven cost-effective measures such as vaccination against HPV, screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions, early detection and prompt treatment of early invasive cancers and palliative care.

“This will require political commitment, greater international cooperation and support for equitable access, including strategies for resource mobilisation.

“Each year, more than 300,000 women die of cervical cancer and more than half a million are diagnosed.

“Cervical cancer is one of the greatest threats to women’s health and every minute, one woman is diagnosed. Each death is a tragedy that can be prevented.

“Most of these women are not diagnosed early enough and lack access to life-saving treatment. Studies have shown that prevention and early treatment of cervical cancer are also highly cost-effective.

“Nine out of 10 women who die from cervical cancer are in poor countries. This means some of the most vulnerable women in our world are dying unnecessarily; this is not fair and just,” WHO said.

The organisation said that currently, most women diagnosed with cervical cancer were diagnosed with advanced cancers where opportunity for cure was small.

However, it said that cervical cancer was one of the most preventable and curable forms of cancer as long as it was detected early and managed effectively.

WHO maintained that new cases of the disease could be reduced if the HPV vaccine was administered promptly and screening of the cervix carried out with follow on treatment before cancer appears.

The world health body assured that it was accelerating progress to address the problem by working to ensure all girls globally were vaccinated against HPV and every woman screened and treated for pre-cancerous lesions.

It said that the orgainsation was also working to improve access to diagnosis and treatment of invasive cancers at the earliest stages and ensure availability of palliative care for women who need it.

“All these services must be embedded in strong health systems aimed at delivering Universal Health Coverage (UHC). High-income countries have shown the way now it is time for global elimination.

“To succeed we need everyone on board from governments and UN agencies to researchers, healthcare professionals, private sector and individuals; we all have a role to play,” the report read.

In her message to mark the “World Cancer Day 2019″, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that globally, 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths was recorded in 2012.

Moeti said that in 2018, 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths was recorded.

The regional director said that if this trend was maintained, the cancer burden in Africa was projected to double from 1,055,172 new cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 cancer cases by 2040.