70 nations seek action against cervical cancer

Kuala Lumpur, May 27 (IANS) With cervical cancer projected to kill nearly half a million women by 2030, stakeholders from more than 70 countries came together Monday to seek an urgent call for action against the disease.

The landmark announcement, made at the global forum on cervical cancer prevention here, called for universal access to cervical cancer prevention, which would rewrite the future for millions of girls and women living in some of the poorest countries in the world.

The global forum was hosted by 30 international partners, including the health ministry of Malaysia.

Every year 275,000 women die of cervical cancer. India alone accounts for 72,000 deaths from cervical cancer – more than any other country – while the highest mortality rates for the cancer is in Africa.

World leaders and international agencies are heeding the call. Over the past month, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the GAVI Alliance have announced bold steps that combined would dramatically reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths across the world.

“This is a wonderful beginning in protecting girls from the world’s poorest countries against one of the leading cancer killers of women,” Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said Sunday.

“The new low price we negotiated for the HPV vaccine allows us to immunise more girls and takes us a step closer towards sustainability,” he said.

Leaders commended South Africa, which is not eligible for GAVI funding, for announcing that in February 2014, it too will roll out the vaccine for girls aged nine to 10.

International agencies have a key role to play to ensure that the world moves toward the World Health Organisation commitment that by 2015, 50 percent of the 75 focus countdown countries will have introduced the HPV vaccine.

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