Women's health leaders today called on the international community to commit the resources needed to ensure that women and girls worldwide have equal access to cervical cancer prevention technologies. At the WOMEN DELIVER conference, the Declaration for Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention was issued by leading women's health, cancer and business organizations, including PATH, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the International Union Against Cancer.
"Today with the development of new tools and strategies, we have an unprecedented opportunity to prevent and treat cervical cancer through a comprehensive response in low-resource settings," said Chris Elias, President and CEO of PATH. "There is strong scientific evidence of the safety of HPV vaccines, accuracy of HPV testing and effectiveness of same day screen-and treat approaches. We have the tools we need; now we need the funding and political will to deliver them to the women around the world."
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in developing countries. Despite being preventable and treatable, the disease continues to kill more than 270,000 women every year, the vast majority of whom live in low-resource settings where there is limited access to screening and treatment technologies. A comprehensive response to cervical cancer could employ available prevention and screening tools such as HPV testing, vaccines, pap testing and visual inspection with acetic acid.
"It is a global failure that women in developing countries continue to suffer due to poor access to new and available prevention tools," said Dr. Lynette Denny, Principal Investigator with the Department of Gynecology and Oncology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. "The world will not be able to meet its goals to improve women's health and development without addressing the growing cervical cancer burden. We hope this Declaration galvanizes all sectors to work together to deliver prevention and treatment technologies to women worldwide."
Read the full Declaration here:
Today we have the unprecedented opportunity to give women and girls worldwide an equal chance at healthy and productive lives, free from cervical cancer. We have made significant progress in the development of cervical cancer prevention tools and there is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting their use.
We call for swift action by the international community -- governments, NGOs, multilaterals, and industry -- to provide financial and political commitments and to collaborate across sectors to ensure that women and girls worldwide have access to comprehensive cervical cancer prevention that includes screening, treatment and vaccination.
- Each year, cervical cancer -- which is caused by high-risk types of the human papillomavirus -- kills more than 270,000 women globally. About 88 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, where limited access to screening and treatment has made cervical cancer the most common cancer-related cause of death among women.
- Mounting scientific evidence has proven the safety and efficacy of HPV vaccines and the accuracy of molecular HPV testing in both industrialized and developing countries, further validating their global use.
- New HPV screening technologies, WHO prequalification of HPV vaccines and single visit screen-and-treat approaches -- including visual inspection with acetic acid followed by cryotherapy -- now make it possible to implement comprehensive cervical cancer prevention strategies in low-resource settings, giving hope to women across the globe.
- At current rates it is estimated that, by 2015, deaths from cervical cancer could exceed 320,000 each year. This would prevent the full realization of UN Millennium Development Goal Five to improve maternal health and achieve universal access to reproductive health.
- Cervical cancer is central to the emerging cancer pandemic in low and middle income countries. The number of lives lost to this preventable disease is a global failure of the largest scale; it is our moral imperative to make certain that all women and girls have a fair chance at full and healthy lives.
At this historic WOMEN DELIVER conference, thousands of leaders from around the globe are mobilizing action to focus on proven solutions to improve the health and development of women and girls. We call on these same leaders to commit attention and resources to cervical cancer. This disease is inextricably linked to maternal and reproductive health agendas. We cannot achieve broader women's health goals unless we prioritize the global prevention of this disease.