WHO announces $600 million fund to eliminate cervical cancer in Women

WHO just announced that governments, donors, multilateral institutions, and other partners convened at the first-ever Global Cervical Cancer Elimination Forum in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, have pledged a new policy, programmatic, and financial commitments to combat cervical cancer. Notably, nearly US$600 million in new funding was pledged, marking a significant milestone in the global health sector’s fight against the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the forum’s success in catalyzing national and global momentum to eradicate cervical cancer, a preventable disease claiming the life of a woman every two minutes worldwide. The collective ambition to expand vaccine coverage, alongside strengthening screening and treatment programs, presents a historic opportunity to eliminate a cancer type for the first time, according to experts.

Central to the strategy is the vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, which could prevent the vast majority of cases. When combined with effective screening and treatment, these measures offer a clear path towards the disease’s elimination. The recent WHO endorsement of a single-dose HPV vaccine schedule represents a significant leap forward in making vaccination programs more accessible, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the disease’s impact is most severe.

The forum’s announcements follow the 2020 commitment by 194 countries to adopt WHO’s global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer, underlining the international community’s resolve to address this health crisis. With 37 countries already reporting a switch to, or intent to switch to, a one-dose HPV vaccine regimen, the momentum towards reaching this goal is accelerating.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, emphasized the critical juncture at which the global health community stands, with the knowledge and tools at hand to consign cervical cancer to history. However, he also pointed out the current challenges, noting that vaccination, screening, and treatment programs have yet to achieve the necessary scale. He mentioned that “We have the knowledge and the tools to make cervical cancer history, but vaccination, screening and treatment programmes are still not reaching the scale required”. “This first global forum is an important opportunity for governments and partners to invest in the global elimination strategy and addressing the inequities that deny women and girls access to the life-saving tools they need, he added.”

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