The strategy follows a call to action in 2018 from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and involves 194 countries working together to end the preventable cancer.
By 2030, the strategy aims to reach 90% human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination coverage (certain high-risk HPV types can cause cervical cancer), 70% screening coverage and 90% access to related care in all countries.
“Every year, we lose more than 300,000 women to a disease which is almost entirely preventable and potentially curable if diagnosed early,” Ghebreyesus said at the virtual launch. “We have the tools to make cervical cancer history.”
“This is a historic moment for global health,” he continued. “It marks the first time that the world has committed to eliminating a cancer.”
Richard Freeman, the moderator of the virtual launch, said countries have been illuminating their landmarks and monuments in teal, the color representing cervical cancer awareness and elimination. According to the WHO, 80 monuments worldwide will “illuminate the cause,” including in Canada, Australia, Uzbekistan and El Salvador, among others.
The WHO released a video with women around the world sharing testimony about their cervical cancer diagnoses and battles.
“I was so shocked when these results came out positive because I wasn’t in any pain, or I wasn’t having any symptoms,” Sally Kwenda of Nairobi, Kenya, said in the video, adding that her husband left her after her hysterectomy, or a procedure to remove all or part of the uterus.
Another woman confessed suicidal thoughts amid her fight against cervical cancer.
“If you get screened early, this is a disease that is preventable, and it is curable,” Kwenda continued.