The absence of basic screening tools such as: Pap smears, colposcopy, pathology infrastructure, treatment facilities and organised cancer registration hinders the elimination of cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). In terms of prevention, great strides still need to be made to protect women (and men) contracting HPV. However, since 2013 GAVI has made HPV vaccines available to eligible countries at subsidised prices. All low‐income countries (31) and nearly half of lower‐middle income countries (23) are currently eligible to access vaccines at these discounted prices. Right now, 8 LMICs introduced HPV vaccine nationally and seven more will do so in the next 4 years. Many more LMICs thus still need to start piloting and eventually developing national HIV vaccine prevention plans. For this they will need technical assistance and secure financial support.
How does the European Commission plan to tackle cervical cancer in Europe?
The European Commission, in February 2021, introduced Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. The plan introduced a new set of comprehensive measures to tackle cancer, including cervical cancer, through four pillars. The first pillar focuses on improving the already existing cancer prevention plans by extending HPV vaccinations to at least 90% of the target population of girls and boys by 2030. This will result in an elimination of different types of cancer caused by HPV.
The second pillar focuses on early detection through comprehensive Cancer Screening Schemes in the EU which will include offering cervical, breast and colorectal cancer screening to 90% of the target population by 2025. The third pillar introduces two major initiatives; first, a network of comprehensive cancer centres in the EU will offer the highest quality of care in the EU; second, providing the best possible access to new diagnostics and treatments through an initiative called Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment for All. The fourth and final pillar introduces the Better Life for Cancer Patients Initiative which will introduce a Cancer Survivor Smart-Card and a virtual European Cancer Patient Digital Centre to exchange patient data and monitor survivor’s health conditions.