WHO Cancer Report: Moving in the Wrong Direction

Woman walking down the street carrying a heavy load.

The report last month on global cancer incidence and access to care from WHO confirms our worst fears: instead of going down, cancer incidence is expected to rise 77% globally and a stunning 142% in low HDI (human development index) countries by 2050.

It was also disconcerting to see that in 25 countries, mostly in Africa, cervical cancer is the top cancer for women. What should be the one bright spot in the global cancer story is instead a harbinger of inequity.

Cervical cancer is the only cancer targeted for elimination by WHO because we have the tools and knowledge to drive it into the history books. The evidence on prevention through vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is powerful: a recent study out of Scotland showed that “no cases of invasive (cervical) cancer were recorded in women immunized at 12 or 13, irrespective of the number of doses.” Screening and treatment tools, vital to secondary prevention, have also improved.

Global HPV Consortium Is Helping

The Global HPV Consortium takes direct aim at the barriers confronting HPV prevention and cervical cancer elimination. Our Action Plan outlines novel partnering with organizations from the ground up, amplifies effective local solutions, and shares that knowledge globally.

With an emphasis on integration, the Consortium helps countries plan new sustainable ways to reach and treat women and girls in accessible settings. With broad affiliations across multiple sectors, it spreads knowledge and builds community-based collaborations that support health development, adding to the access that will bolster awareness and treatment for all cancers.

As the WHO estimates show, we desperately need these new approaches, particularly as much-heralded development increases the disease burden most closely associated with development. It will take action to change our health trajectory.

Learn more about the Global HPV Consortium