The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged South-East Asian countries to accelerate efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030.
“Countries need to expand vaccination, screening, detection and treatment services for everyone, everywhere to address the growing problem of cervical cancer,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee here in Delhi.
Cervical cancer is a significant public health problem in the region. In 2018, an estimated 158,000 new cases and 95,766 deaths were reported due to cervical cancer, which is the third most common type of cancer.
Addressing cancer risk factors and reducing its prevalence has been a regional flagship priority since 2014, and all countries in the region are taking measures for screening and treatment of pre-cancers, WHO said in a statement. According to the WHO, four countries in the Region – Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand – have introduced HPV vaccines nationally.
“We need to scale up both our capacities and quality for screening, treatment services and palliative care,” Singh said. Vaccination against human papillomavirus, screening and treatment of pre-cancer, early detection and prompt treatment of early invasive cancers and palliative care are proven effective strategies to address cervical cancer.
Member countries are working towards interim global targets – of achieving 90 per cent girls fully vaccinated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age; having 70 per cent women screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age: and of 90 per cent women identified with the cervical disease receiving treatment and care by 2030.
The WHO South-East Asia Regional Director said there is a need to strengthen national cervical cancer control plans, including appropriate strategies and guidelines for immunisation, screening, treatment and care, including palliative care. WHO is prioritising cervical cancer elimination as worldwide cervical cancer remains one of the gravest threats to women”s lives.