The signatories of this statement call for all European Union and WHO/Europe member states to take immediate action towards fulfilling the ambituous goal of eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem. The statement was signed by EuroHealthNet, as well as by RIVER-EU, a Horizon 2020 project that works to improve access to MMR and HPV vaccines among specific underserved populations in Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia by identifying and removing health system barriers, of which EuroHealthNet is a partner.
On 17 November 2020, the WHO formally launched the first-ever global effort to accelerate the elimination of a specific cancer type. Cervical cancer is an almost entirely preventable cancer thanks to prophylactic vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) and screening and treatment of cervical precancers. Despite the availability of several highly effective tools for preventing and controlling cervical cancer, in 2020 alone, more than 341,000 women worldwide were estimated to have died due to this cancer. Within the EU-27 member states, approximately 33,000 women and their families receive a diagnosis of cervical cancer and 15,000 women lose their lives annually due to this disease with associated social and economic losses to families, communities and economies. With an increasing incidence over time, the burden of cervical cancer falls disproportionately on women and families in Eastern Europe and economically and socially vulnerable communities within countries. Nevertheless, all countries must take action to improve cervical cancer control.
Considering that almost every life claimed by cervical cancer can be potentially saved by equitable access to safe, evidence-based and effective preventative and treatment strategies, there is no time to lose in striving to achieve the following 2030 cervical cancer elimination targets in Europe:
- 90% of girls fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 15 years of age;
- 70% of women screened with a high precision test by 35 and 45 years of age; and
- 90% of women identified with cervical precancer or cancer receive treatment and care.
Considering that the recently adopted Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan3 aims to support EU member states in meeting these targets, we the joint signatories urge policymakers across Europe to embrace the opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern, measured by reducing incidence below 4/100,000 per year. The statement sets out 7 priority actions for a comprehensive approach that leaves no-one behind.