May 27, 2013 9:57 am

World leaders, advocates unite to seek action against cervical cancer

More than 70 countries worldwide have come together urging for universal access to cervical cancer prevention.

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TORONTO – More than 70 countries worldwide have come together urging for universal access to cervical cancer prevention.

On Monday, global cervical cancer prevention leaders, advocates, academics and policy makers gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the “Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention” forum in order to discuss best practices and explore innovative financing options for comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs.

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The launch of “Call to Action” paved the way for an exchange of best practice experiences for effective cervical cancer prevention across the globe.

READ MORE: Merck, Glaxo health groups bringing cervical cancer vaccines to girls in poorest countries

“This is a wonderful beginning in protecting girls from the world’s poorest countries against one of the leading cancer killers of women” said Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. “And the new low price we negotiated for the HPV vaccine allows us to immunise more girls and takes us a step closer towards sustainability.”

According to cancer.ca, 275,000 women die of cervical cancer every year. India alone accounts for 72,000 deaths—more than any other country.

The top ten countries with the highest mortality rates for cervical cancer are all in Africa.

“These aren’t just numbers, these are lives” said U.S. former first lady Laura Bush in a video during the forum, which was broadcast live online Monday.

“They’re mothers and daughters, farmers and teachers, entrepreneurs, shop owners, friends and mentors.”

“We look forward to standing with all of you to ensure that women all over the world are protected from this disease,” said Bush.

During the forum, cancer prevention advocates and leaders commended South Africa, who announced in February 2014 that they will roll out the HPV vaccine to girls aged nine to ten.

READ MORE: Doctors calling for increase in male HPV vaccinations

“Cervical cancer happened to me,” said Genevieve Sambhi, a cervical cancer survivor and former Miss Malaysia Universe. “It can happen to anyone, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Together we can achieve a world free of cervical cancer.”

By the numbers: Cervical cancer rates around the world

According to the Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition, while numerous tools and technologies exist to prevent cervical cancer, these interventions remain largely inaccessible to the girls and women in developing countries who need them mostly due to lack of awareness and deep-seated stigma associated with the disease.

275,000 – Estimated number of women who die every year from cervical cancer worldwide

500,000 – Number of new cases of cervical cancer reported worldwide every year

72, 825 – Number of women who die every year from cervical cancer in India—the highest mortality rate in the world.

2030 – The year by which projections show that almost half a million of diagnosed women will die of cervical cancer, with over 98 per cent of those deaths expected to occur in low and middle-income countries

All 10 countries with the highest cervical cancer mortality rates can be found in Africa.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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