World Health Organisation sets global agenda to eliminate cervical cancer

Published: 22 October 2019

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer1, yet over a quarter of a million women die from the disease each year. Ninety per cent of deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)2.

The screening and treatment of pre-cancer among women is critical if cervical cancer is to be eliminated. The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledges this and has outlined a strategy to eradicate cervical cancer by the end of the century.

WHO sets cervical cancer screening and elimination targets

The WHO strategy, “Global Strategy Towards the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem”3, calls for a comprehensive global approach from the 184 WHO member countries, with a target of eliminating cervical cancer by 2100.

In particular, the document proposes that 70 per cent of women between 35 and 45 years of age in WHO member countries be screened with a high-precision test by 2030.

To achieve these targets, countries need to adopt innovative and optimal service delivery models, particularly in LMICs where cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates are higher because screening programmes, infrastructure and resources are lacking.

Are we on track to achieve these targets?

According to the “Accelerating Cervical Cancer Elimination” report by the WHO Director-General, only 57 per cent of the 139 countries reporting available cervical cancer screening services have screening programmes organised at a national or regional level. Forty per cent have ‘opportunistic’ screening programmes (screening outside an organised or population-based screening programme)4.

Of these 139 countries, only 22 countries − mainly high-income nations − reported screening programmes that achieve the proposed target of 70 per cent coverage or above5.

The majority of the 139 countries reported participation rates of less than 50 per cent, and in some cases less than 10 per cent due to the lack of organised programmes, ineffective population outreach, unavailable infrastructure and limited resources6.

These figures demonstrate the significant need to develop and improve cervical cancer screening in countries across the globe if we are to meet WHO’s proposed targets.

The WHO strategy to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide provides a significant market opportunity for TruScreen, providing a favourable macro environment for the Company’s innovative screening technology.

TruScreen is well placed to help LMICs meet targets

The TruScreen device is currently the only electro-optical real-time cervical screening method available in LMICs. The breakthrough device is an alternative to conventional cervical screening and provides a viable solution to LMICs that have limited resources.

The TruScreen device resolves many of the ongoing issues faced by low- and middle-income regions, such as accessibility and the need for supportive laboratory infrastructure.

TruScreen has strong relationships with Key Opinion Leaders, NGOs and government organisations in LMICs that require technologies such as TruScreen to help them meet WHO’s screening targets. Refer to table below.

Current market presence for TruScreen in key markets

Market Screening population NGO/KOL engagement Pilot program Distribution/sales commenced
China 401M Yes Yes Yes
Latin America 31M Yes Yes
Russia 44M Yes Yes Yes
India 300M Yes Yes Yes
Africa 227M Yes Yes Yes
Vietnam 26M Yes Yes Yes

 

The WHO strategy is currently in draft stage. Subject to consultation with WHO member countries, the strategy is expected to be tabled for adoption at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland.

References:
  1. World Health Organisation, WHO leads the way towards the elimination of cervical cancer as a public 
    health concern, World Health Organisation, viewed 15 October 2019, 
    https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/cervical-cancer-public-health-concern/en/
  2. World Health Organisation, Cervical Cancer, World Health Organisation, viewed 27 September 2019, 
    https://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/diagnosis-screening/cervical-cancer/en/
  3. World Health Organisation,  Draft: Global Strategy Towards The Elimination Of Cervical Cancer As 
    Public Health Problem, World Health Organisation, viewed 15 October 2019, 
    https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/documents/cervical-cancer-elimination-draft-strategy.pdf?sfvrsn=380979d6_4
  4. World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, IAEA, UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, 2016. TOWARDS THE ELIMINATION OF 
    CERVICAL CANCER: background paper or the Partners Meeting to scale up cervical cancer prevention and 
    control through a new UN Global Joint Programme to end cervical cancer, viewed 14 October 2019, 
    https://www.who.int/ncds/un-task-force/background-paper-cervical-cancer-partners-meeting-december2016.pdf?ua=1
  5. T A Ghebreyesus, 2019. Accelerating cervical cancer elimination, World Health Organisation, 
    viewed 14 October, https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB144/B144_28-en.pdf
  6. Assessing national capacity for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases: 
    report of the 2017 global survey. Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2018