Cervical cancer awareness month – aims for elimination by 2120

Worldwide January is acknowledged as Cervical Cancer awareness month. The day aims to raise awareness around cervical cancer – which in most cases is preventable with the HPV vaccine.

Health education and improved awareness around cervical cancer, and cancers of the female reproductive system, could potential save millions of lives ever year.

The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infections. While most of these infections do not lead to cancer, if persistent infection can lead to cancer development.

HPV vaccine equity is not achieved as women in developing and low resource settings are often unable to access with vaccine, putting them at risk for developing the disease .

While across many developed nations there are HPV vaccination programmes, initially aimed at female adolescents but in many countries open to boys as well. The HPV vaccine is required at two doses to provide enough protection against the virus. HPV can also cause  some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers and some cancers of the anal and genital areas. 

Regular screenings with a gold standard high performance test can detect cancer early, meaning more time to treat the cancer at an earlier stage. The earlier a cancer is detected the better chance of a good outcome for the individual. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set ambitious goals around eliminating cervical cancer by 2120:

  •          To reach this goal, WHO’s Member States should strive to meet the following interim scale-up targets by 2030:
  •          90% of girls are fully vaccinated with human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age;
  •          70% of women are screened using a high-performance test by 35 years of age and again by 45 years of age;
  •          90% of women with pre-cancer are treated, and 90% of women with invasive cancer are managed.


Worldwide and Regional Efforts

 The Eastern Mediterranean executive summary is ambitious with the elimination of cancer caused by an infective agent. Cervical cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women in the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region. In 2020, an estimated 89 800 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in the Region and more than 47 500 women died from this preventable disease.

However, the report lacks the sensitive solutions needed to tackle the problems around women’s health in traditional male dominated societies.

The Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative Knowledge Repository was established by the WHO  to support the implementation of the Global Strategy by Member States. There are many sources of relevant guidance and information to guide these efforts. The Knowledge Repository is a web-based platform, which aims to map and provide "one-stop" access to the knowledge collected from a variety of sources.

Cervical cancer elimination initiative knowledge repository