England (Commonwealth Union)_ The Commonwealth has a large cervical cancer burden, especially in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite comprising just 30% of the world’s population, the Commonwealth bears 40% of the worldwide cancer incidence burden and 43% of the global death burden. If proper measures are not initiated to radically to bring down the rising incidence of cervical cancer in the Commonwealth by 2030, the number of new cases of cervical cancer may increase by 55% to 324,598 cases and deaths may increase by 62% to 186,066 deaths by 2030, resulting in the death of one woman every three minutes.
In 2021, the Health Ministers of the Commonwealth pledged to achieve assurance that all girls aged 9 to 13 will have access to immunization against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection by 2025. This milestone pledge was further enhanced this year at CHOGM 2022, when heads of government backed this goal. Last week, the Commonwealth Secretariat organized a high-level meeting with member states, multilateral and civil society organizations, cancer survivors, and other major players in an effort to create awareness of the present challenge of cervical cancer across the 56-member association and to identify the key obstacles that are impeding progress.
This meeting is part of the London Global Cancer Week (2022) and was held approximately six months following CHOGM 2022, offering a significant platform to explore strategies and suggestions for future initiatives towards eradicating cervical cancer in the Commonwealth by 2025. The Commonwealth Secretariat honored London Global Cancer Week by organizing a high-level event to demonstrate the Commonwealth’s dedication to eliminating the disease as a public health concern. The event gathered Commonwealth high commissioners, cancer survivors and activists, members of civil society and international organizations, and other important stakeholders to debate the subject ‘The Road to 2025: Achieving the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in the Commonwealth’.
During her speech, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, recommended a coordinated approach to speed up the efforts towards eliminating cervical cancer. “With an estimated 60 million lives saved globally if we achieve elimination, there has never been a stronger case for action. But we need to have a collective voice and collective action. And we need everyone at the table,” she said. “It is our shared duty to reduce and ultimately prevent this unnecessary tragedy.”
The Secretary-General also remarked that the Secretariat will provide member states with the essential tools, resources, and knowledge that are necessary to speed up national and regional efforts through measures such as the International Taskforce for Cervical Cancer Elimination and the Voluntary Information and Price Sharing Database. The event also included a brief screening of the documentary, Conquering Cancer, which narrates measures to eradicate cervical cancer in several Commonwealth nations.