WHO Launches A Campaign To Eliminate Cervical Cancer Worldwide

A new study projects that the ongoing efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the global elimination of cervical cancer could help wipe out the disease in nearly 150 countries worldwide. 

Cervical cancer affects over half a million people around the world annually, with one patient dying every two minutes, ScienceAlert reported on Wednesday. 

WHO previously unveiled a global campaign that called on governments and organizations to help eliminate the disease, which is considered one of the greatest threats to women. Such effort could effectively wipe out the entire disease in most countries around the world by the end of the century, according to the study published in The Lancet Oncology

Researchers said WHO is set to begin a widespread vaccination coverage and expand cervical screenings in 2020. If done according to plan and schedule, the team predicts that such effort would prevent up to 13.4 million cases of cervical cancer by 2069.

“More than two thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening,” said lead author Karen Canfell, a cancer epidemiologist from the Cancer Council in Sydney, Australia.

Estimates show that nearly 85 percent of cervical cancer cases today occur in less-developed regions due to poor screening rates and vaccination rates.

Canfell’s team used data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer for their analysis of WHO’s anti-cancer efforts.  

“Our challenge is to ensure that all girls globally are vaccinated … and that every woman over 30 is screened and treated for precancerous lesions,” said the director general of WHO.

The U.S., the United Kingdom, Finland, Canada and Australia are projected to achieve total cervical cancer elimination within the next 25 to 40 years. However, other developing countries, like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea, might lag behind other nations and take a few decades longer to see the same results, researchers said.  

The study also warns that failing to expand cancer prevention programs could lead to more than 44 million women developing cervical cancer in the next 50 years across the world. About two thirds of that population is expected to experience fatality, and this could lead to 15 million deaths.

“The WHO call-to-action provides an enormous opportunity to increase the level of investment in proven cervical cancer interventions in the world's poorest countries,” Canfell said. “Failure to adopt these interventions will lead to millions of avoidable premature deaths,” he added.

Based on the current population growth and aging, the number of cervical cancer patients is expected to climb to 1.3 million per year in 2069.