By: Adebowale Bello, Freelance Health Writer. With medical review and editorial support by the Datelinehealth Africa Team
Africa has long struggled with a high cervical cancer death rate and few diseases demonstrate the gulf in healthcare conditions like cervical cancer does.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) 2020 strategy report showed that new cases and death rates in low- and middle-income African countries are three times higher than in high-income countries.
Cervical cancer is preventable and even curable when detected early. However the rising burden of the disease has shown that urgent and strategic action needs to be taken to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health risk.
The introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in 2006 has been extremely effective and the availability of this vaccine has been increasing worldwide.
According to the 2020 report by the WHO, 85% of high-income countries had introduced the HPV vaccine into their national immunization schedule, yet less than 25% of low- and middle-income countries had done the same, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (see fig. 1).
Figure 1: A chart showing global HPV vaccination uptake by countries in different income groups. (Source, WHO) Click on image to enlarge.
In 2020, the World Health Organisation and 194 member countries resolved to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030 under a 90-70-90 plan of action. 
The plan proposes that by 2030 globally:
90% of girls would be fully vaccinated at age 15.
70% of women are screened at 35 years of age and then at 45 years.
90% of women living with cervical cancer are treated.
Three years down the line, significant progress is being made both globally and in Africa to ensure that the goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030 remains valid.
In Africa, the Benin Republic First Lady hosted an HPV screening campaign to increase the awareness regarding cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine. 
The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo organised an Awareness March in the capital city, Kinshasa calling for cervical cancer elimination.
In October 2023, Nigeria embarked on a vaccination program aimed at vaccinating 7.7 million young girls.
Guinea also established several health centres offering free cervical cancer screening services and combined with increased awareness programs on radio and television programmes, thousands of women have gotten screened.
The result? Many women with pre-cancerous lesions have been detected early and appropriate treatment commenced; which improves recovery chances.
“In the last three years, we have witnessed significant progress, but women in poorer countries and poor and marginalized women in richer countries still suffer disproportionately from cervical cancer. With enhanced strategies to increase access to vaccination, screening and treatment, strong political and financial commitment from countries, and increased support from partners, we can realize our vision for eliminating cervical cancer.” - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. 
African heads of state should commit their national governments to establish a National Cancer Fund (NACAF) that would be tapped in part to fund the execution of the 90-70-90 action plan to eliminate cervical cancer in their respective countries by year 2030.
The NACAF for each country could be structured according to need, through a 1 to 1 yearly matching funds from the national health budget and funds obtained under favorable conditions from the African Union and development partners.
Attaining the three key cervical cancer elimination goals calls for the judicious and accountable application of funds to execute awareness raising, improve access to screening and treatment services and provide for consistent availability and delivery of the HPV vaccines in each country’s National Program of Immunization.
Cervical cancer can be eliminated in Africa by the year 2030 as defined goals and poposals on action plans are available. What remains is political will at national levels to fund and drive the execution of the action plans and the achievement of the goals.
1. World Health Organisation. (2020). Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. Accessed November 22, 2023.
2. World Health Organisation. (2023). Global partners cheer progress towards eliminating cervical cancer and underline challenges. Accessed November 22, 2023.
3. World Health Organisation. (2023). Progress towards cervical cancer elimination. Accessed November 22, 2023.
Published: November 25, 2023
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