WHO Unveils Plan to Eliminate Cervical Cancer

A school in Bali facilitates measles-rubella and HPV immunization to combat cervical cancer. September 10, 2020. Image: Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto/Getty
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A school in Bali facilitates measles-rubella and HPV immunization to combat cervical cancer. September 10, 2020. Image: Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto/Getty

The WHO unveiled a new 3-part strategy today to rid the world of cervical cancer, saving the lives of ~5 million women and girls. 

The resolution adopted by 194 countries at this year’s World Health Assembly seeks to reduce new cases by 40% by 2050. It marks the first time the world has committed to eliminate a cancer.

The roadmap sets out 3 targets to reach by 2030:

  • 90% HPV vaccination coverage of girls by age 15

  • 70% screening coverage for women by age 35 and again by 45

  • 90% access to treatment for cervical pre-cancer and cancer, including access to palliative care


Why It Matters: Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer among women globally—and the only vaccine-preventable cancer. And yet:

  • Cases could climb to 700,000, with 400,000 associated deaths, by 2030 with no action.

  • Death rates are 3X higher for low- and middle-income countries than wealthier nations.


One Big Hurdle: There are 3 vaccines to combat HPV, but availability is skewed towards richer countries, UN News reports.

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