Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Civil Society Leaders Announce New Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer

Thirteen civil society and public health organizations, including World YWCA and Rockefeller Foundation, seek global access to new HPV vaccines and screening
NAIROBI (6 July 2007) – A coalition of leaders at the World YWCA International Women’s Summit in Nairobi today announced the launch of the Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer, a disease that kills more than a quarter of a million women each year. The Global Call aims to end cervical cancer by mobilizing political support to ensure that every woman and girl has access to newly available life-saving vaccines and new tools for screening and treatment.
“Cervical cancer is entirely preventable, so it is unacceptable that women in developing countries do not have access to new innovations in preventing and treating this disease,” said the Hon. Betty Tett, MP, Chairperson of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association. “Political leaders must prioritize cervical cancer to ensure that all women, no matter how rich or poor, have access to new medical technologies that can save their lives.”
Cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), strikes more than 500,000 women every year. Due to extremely limited access to screening and treatment, 80 percent of cervical cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries, making it the most common cause of cancer-related death for women in these countries. New vaccines which protect against the most dangerous strains of HPV are largely unavailable in the developing world. These vaccines and innovations in HPV screening and treatment for women have the potential end the threat of cervical cancer worldwide.
“Cervical cancer, like HIV and AIDS, affects many women in Africa. African women must therefore play a leading role in prevention efforts,” said Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, General Secretary of the World YWCA, which is hosting a meeting this week in Nairobi that brings together 1,500 leaders from around the world to discuss issues related to HIV and AIDS. “AIDS activists have taught the world that there is a moral imperative to provide access to prevention and treatment services. We must extend these lessons to cervical cancer.”
Researchers have long recognized a link between HIV and cervical cancer. HIV-positive women are about four times more likely to develop the pre-cancerous lesions that can lead to cervical cancer than HIV-negative women. By launching the Global Call at a conference focused on HIV and AIDS, the organizers hope to encourage HIV activists and cervical cancer activists to learn from one another and share strategies to expand access to prevention and treatment.

“The world cannot afford to wait for new HPV vaccines and screening tests to eventually trickle down from wealthy countries to developing countries where women need these life-saving products,” said Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, a Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation. “Cervical cancer is largely preventable, so we must not let women die for want of access to these products. We have an historic opportunity to save lives.”
The Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer urges governments to prioritize cervical cancer in national development and health budgets, calls on multilateral agencies to ensure accelerated regulatory processes, appeals to international donors to ensure new vaccines and diagnostics are widely available, and calls upon industry to provide adequate supplies of new technologies at radically tiered prices. The Global Call is available online at, and organizations and individuals around the world are invited to sign on to show their support.
Over the coming months, the Global Call will be presented to policymakers at important high-level political events in an effort to demonstrate broad-base support to stop cervical cancer worldwide. The European Commission is organizing a meeting in September to fully engage political leaders in the fight against cervical cancer.
“Far too many women are still dying of cervical cancer,” said Dr. Lieve Fransen, Head of Human and Social Development for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development. “The public, private and non-profit sectors need to work together to ensure that these new technologies are made available without delay to all women and girls who need them, wherever they live.”
Kenya: Brad Tytel, +254 (0) 73 785 9016,
United States: Victor Zonana, +1 917 497 3939,
Editors note: Thirteen global civil society and public health organizations make up the strategic advisory committee for the Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer: The World YWCA, The Rockefeller Foundation, PATH, The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Family Care International, JHPIEGO, American Cancer Society, The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA), the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), Sociedad Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Oncologia Medica (SLACOM). The Global Call is supported by funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and PATH. Global Health Strategies, New York, is the secretariat for this effort.

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