Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative Updates

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Dear friends and colleagues,

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen progress in the areas of primary prevention (HPV vaccination) and secondary prevention (screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions) of cervical cancer.

On the eve of 2020’s Global Vaccine Summit, which took place on 4 June, five HPV vaccine manufacturers committed to increasing and prioritizing the supply of HPV vaccines to Gavi-supported countries. This commitment will enable Gavi to increase its reach from 50 million to 84 million girls over the next 5-year period and avert an estimated 1.4 million deaths due to cervical cancer. We were pleased to see this life-saving investment in the lives of girls and women around the world. It will especially uplift those in the poorest countries.

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In addition to being a revolution in cancer prevention, the HPV vaccine is indeed effective and safe. We must recall Dr Tedros’ warning and continue to maintain the safe delivery of routine immunizations against all deadly vaccine-preventable diseases like cervical cancer despite disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Learn more about HPV vaccination and safety

On 25 June, I was thrilled to participate in a special focus dialogue on increasing access to screening and treatment to prevent cervical cancer. The webinar, organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), touched on the themes of cancer, HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). My colleagues and I spoke of the WHO Global Strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer and our ongoing work to update screening and treatment guidelines for all women including women living with HIV. We announced a global survey that will explore women’s perspectives on cervical health, screening and treatment, to help inform WHO’s new recommendations for screening and treatment. The survey will be live as of 1 July.

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This year, the International Papillomavirus Conference (IPVC2020) is going virtual in its mission to harness the power of innovation on HPV research to deliver on global prevention and control of HPV-related diseases like cervical cancer. I am proud to be presenting WHO’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy during the closing plenary on 24 July.

Members of WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s Expert Group on Cervical Cancer Elimination remain outspoken about maintaining focus and making progress in cervical cancer prevention and treatment despite COVID-19. HRH Princess Dina Mired, president of the Union for International Cancer Control, recently published an op-ed in CNN highlighting COVID-19’s impact on cancer patients. On 27 June, Dr Amina Abubkar-Bello, founder of Raise Foundation, was a featured speaker at the launch of the CSOs Coalition Against Cervical Cancer (CCACC), part of the Cancer Survivors Conference 2020

We are pleased to report excellent news coming out of Nigeria with Dr Osagie Ehanire, the country’s Minister of Health, approving the development of a National Palliative Care Policy to address the needs of cancer patients in Nigeria. Ehanire revealed this at a Virtual National Stakeholders’ Forum on the Elimination of Cervical Cancer organised by the country’s National Cancer Control Programme.

Learn more

I hope you and your loved ones continue to thrive and remain in good health during uncertain times. Do continue to follow our work by visiting our page on the WHO website and following me on Twitter @DrNonoSimelela.

Warm regards,
Dr Nono Simelela
ADG, Special Adviser to the Director-General on Strategic Programmatic Priorities


Upcoming events

9 July 2020
HPV-Based Cervical Screening: Opportunities Challenges and Insights from the field
Webinar sponsored by TogetHER for Health

20 – 24 July 2020
International Papillomavirus Conference (IPVC 2020)

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ADG, Special Adviser to the Director-General on Strategic Programmatic Priorities




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