The WHO European Region adopted a roadmap to combat cervical cancer at its Regional Committee meeting in Israel on 14 September.
The knowledge and tools to eliminate cervical cancer, chiefly a vaccine and screening, already exist. But stronger and more consistent commitments are needed to end the inequalities between and within countries in mortality, vaccination and screening. Dr. Dilyara Kaidarova, Director General of the Kazakh Institute of Oncology and Radiology, spoke about strengthening cervical cancer screening in her country to ensure no one is left behind, specifically noting Kazakhstan’s efforts to increase participation among hard-to-reach populations by using behavioural and cultural insights to tailor services and bring them closer to the people.
Delegates were moved by the video testimony of the parents of deceased HPV advocate Laura Brennan, who would have turned 30 this year, had the family been aware of the HPV vaccine. Delegates encouraged alignment with the European Union’s Beating Cancer Plan and adoption of a whole-of-society approach, and stressed the need for strengthened awareness-raising for HPV vaccination and national screening programmes, combined with community engagement campaigns, proper health workforce capacity training, and innovative, local solutions adapted to local challenges.
Peter Baker from ECO introduced our Joint Statement, supported by eight organisations, and encouraged WHO Europe to take the opportunity to address all the cancers caused by HPV and to recommend the adoption of gender-neutral HPV vaccination.
The roadmap was adopted by consensus.