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Story and Perspective

Advocates call on Biden administration for U.S. leadership cervical cancer elimination

Pathfinder has joined a group of 20 organizations calling on the new administration to build on current commitments to eliminate cervical cancer.

Read an excerpt from our letter to President Biden: Continued strategic investments by the U.S. Government will be necessary to end preventable cervical cancer deaths.

We understand that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic will be the most urgent and critical task you will inherit. COVID-19 has disrupted efforts across all health areas here in the United States and abroad, and cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs have not been spared. Reductions in HPV vaccination rates mirror those of other vaccines, and lockdowns and social distancing policies designed to mitigate the risk from COVID-19 have led to many women forgoing cervical cancer screening. New modeling projects that for each year of delay in scaling up the three elimination intervention targets, up to 326,000 additional women will die if catch-up vaccination and screening programs are not implemented. We must work collectively to reverse these trends.

A successful response to COVID-19 holds opportunities to improve health outcomes more broadly. An increased emphasis on self-sampling and HPV DNA testing as the primary screening test provides an opportunity to screen women at scale, without requiring physical visits to clinics for the vast majority of women. Viral testing technology scaled globally for COVID-19 will also be applicable for HPV DNA testing, which is more accurate and less invasive than conventional screening methods. And potential mass vaccination campaigns for COVID-19 could provide a platform to reach adolescent girls with catch-up HPV immunization programs.xiv

Members and partners of TogetHER for Health recommend the following actions from the incoming Biden Administration:

  1. Support the World Health Organization’s cervical cancer elimination strategy;
  2. Sustain or increase investments in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, enabling millions of young women and girls to receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer later in life;
  3. Sustain or increase investments in the Go Further program under PEPFAR to screen and treat women living with HIV for cervical cancer using HPV testing as the primary screening method;
  4. Commit to ensuring that cervical cancer vaccination, screening, and treatment services are components of quality, rights-based, client-centered, integrated sexual and reproductive healthcare alongside contraceptive access and prevention, testing, and treatment for HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections;
  5. Provide U.S. Government support for NIH/NCI and CDC efforts necessary to improve and expand tools and strategies for cervical cancer control; and
  6. Utilize COVID-19 mitigation investments to improve global health infrastructure and lab capacity more broadly.

The United States has made tremendous contributions to global women’s health. Your administration has been given an opportunity to build on this legacy by making defining investments toward the elimination of cervical cancer forever. We look forward to working with you and your staff to make cervical cancer elimination a reality.

Sincerely,

TogetHER for Health
Basic Health International
Jhpiego
PATH
Pathfinder International
Population Services International
Project Concern International, a Global Communities Partner
AVAC
C5 Collective
CureCervicalCancer
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Engender Health
Global Focus on Cancer
Go Doc Go
Grounds for Health
International Gynecologic Cancer Society
International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region
Laura Crandall Brown Foundation
The Lily Project
MSI Reproductive Choices

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