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Saturday, May 18, 2024

PH gov’t urged to develop time-bound plan to eliminate cervical cancer

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The Philippine Cervical Cancer Elimination Movement urges the Philippine government to strengthen current public health efforts under the National Integrated Cancer Control Program (NICCA) through bilateral health cooperation, and public-private partnerships, within the framework of a national action plan that will further clarify and follow-through on commitments.

This follows the recent US-Indonesia declaration of a strategic partnership for health, with the leaders of the two countries holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and issuing a joint statement reiterating their shared commitment to strengthening prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, and particularly their shared intent to eliminate the incidence of cervical cancer.

US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 13, announced that the United States “welcomes and supports Indonesia’s Declaration on Cervical Cancer Elimination through the National Cervical Cancer Elimination Plan (2023-2030).”

Indonesia’s plan builds upon the country’s progress toward the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global strategy for cervical cancer elimination, launched in November 2020 with targets set for 2030, and the APEC Cervical Cancer Roadmap (2021-2025).

Notably, the WHO global strategy aims to achieve three targets: fully vaccinate 90% of girls with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15; screen 70% of women by age 35 and again by age45; and treat 90% of women with pre-cancer and manage 90% of women with invasive cancer.

In line with this, Indonesia’s national plan sets even more ambitious targets: vaccinate 90% of both girls and boys; screen 75% of women aged 30 to 69 using HPV-DNA testing; and treat/manage 90% of womendiagnosed with pre-cancer and invasive cancer by 2030.

Eliminating cervical cancer is part of the APEC vision for women and girls to live healthy and productive lives. The APEC Health Working Group reported earlier in March that although APEC economies have made progress toward the WHO 90-70-90 targets, none have reached all three targets for vaccination, screening, and treatment.

The 21 countries appear to be most successful in reaching targets for cervical cancer treatment; however, to reduce disease incidence, the working group proposed increasing investment and uptake of vaccination and screening to prevent cervical cancer from occurring.

With its plan in place, Indonesia could serve as a model for other nations to fully commit to cervical cancer elimination. Indonesia’s efforts will also benefit from its partnership with the US, which aims to foster greater collaboration across multiple health sectors, including through a planned five-year renewal of the memorandum of understanding between the US Department of Health and Human Services and Indonesia’s Ministry of Health.

“We laud Indonesia’s commitment and clear declaration of the government on eliminating cervical cancer. The Philippines is also one with APEC in its vision for women and girls to live healthy and productive lives by ensuring that the threat of cervical cancer and HPV is eliminated. That is why our government is currently implementing several health programs in support of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases like cancer, which we believe can be further strengthened through a whole-of-society approach and public-private partnerships,” said Alvin Manalansan, Co-Convenor of the Philippine Cervical Cancer Elimination Movement.

“We hope that the Philippine Government can likewise issue a definitive statement on cervical cancer elimination, with targets and clear timelines. In doing so, we hope that the Philippines and the US will similarly enhance and further strengthen their cooperation on prevention, screening/diagnostics, and treatment of cervical cancer, as well as research and development , technical collaboration, investment in human capital development, and the sharing of best practices,” Mr. Manalansan added.

The Philippines has a population of 39.6 million women ages 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Every year, 7,897 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 4,052 die from the disease. It is the second most frequent cancer among women in the Philippines and the 2nd most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years old.

The Philippine Cancer Elimination Movement works with various stakeholders to raise awareness on the prevention, treatment, and cure of cervical cancer.

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