Last weekend, at a meeting in Geneva on cervical cancer, the Director-General of the World Health Organization issued a call to action: announcing that cervical cancer can be eliminated through intensified vaccination against HPV, screening and treatment. Other speakers included Michelle Bachelet, until recently the President of Chile, several ministers of health, the World Bank's head of health, Tim Evans, Princess Dina Mired, the President-Elect of the Union for International Cancer Control and others.
Michelle Bachelet noted that one woman dies every two minutes from cervical cancer; during her period as President Chile introduced HPV vaccination for all girls.
The Minister from Rwanda reported that since introducing the vaccine in 2011, the country has vaccinated 93% of girls between 11 and 15 - one of the highest rates in the world!
Australia's Chief Medical Officer said that the country introduced HPV vaccination for girls in 2007 and extended it to boys in 2013. Over the last 10 years, the HPV infection rate has fallen dramatically, from 23% to just 1%. For this cohort of young women, there is now virtually no chance of getting cervical cancer. Elimination is possible. Now its a matter of political leadership (and some resources) in other countries.