World Health Organization urged countries in its South-East Asia 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 Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, at the 72nd session of WHO regional committee held in Delhi.
Cervical cancer is a significant public health problem in south-east Asia. According to WHO, in 2018, an estimated 158,000 new cases and 95,766 deaths were reported due to cervical cancer.
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women and the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death, accounting for nearly 300,000 deaths annually, reports National Health Institute (NIH).
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.
Four countries in the south-east Asia including Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have introduced HPV vaccine nationally. Member countries are reportedly working towards interim global targets to fight against the cancer.
WHO aims at achieving 90% girls fully vaccinated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age; 70% women screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age, and 90% women identified with the cervical disease receive treatment and care by 2030.
Dr Khetrapal Singh said there is a need to strengthen national cervical cancer control plans, including appropriate strategies and guidelines for immunization, screening, treatment and care, including palliative care.
“It is necessary to include these services in the essential services packages towards universal health coverage to meet the targets,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.