First Ladies Join WHO in Call for Cervical Cancer Elimination

Four African First Ladies joined with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an urgent appeal to use Covid-19 as a wakeup call for health equity in combating cervial cancer. Read the @allafrica Guest Column here.

WHO and advocates around the world are commemorating a Day of Action for Cervical Cancer Elimination, welcoming groundbreaking new initiatives to end the devastating disease that claims the lives of over 300,000 women each year. As with Covid-19, access to lifesaving tools is constrained, with women and adolescent girls in the poorest countries deprived of clinical screening facilities, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and treatments which those in affluent places take for granted.

Over the last decade, manufacturers have tilted supply toward wealthier nations. In 2020, just 13% of girls aged 9-14 years globally were vaccinated against HPV - the virus that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. Around 80 countries - home to nearly two thirds of the global cervical cancer burden - are yet to introduce this lifesaving vaccine. The risk of cervical cancer increases six-fold for women living with HIV, but many have not had access to vaccination or screenings.

100 world monuments are being illuminated in teal - the colour of cervical cancer elimination - to mark the day, from the Temple of Heaven in Beijing to city skylines across Australia and Canada's Niagara Falls, WHO reports.

November 17, 2021 is Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action 2021.

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