$12.5m towards cervical cancer elimination
The Australian Government has made a significant contribution to the elimination of cervical cancer in the Indo-Pacific, with a $12.5 million regional aid grant to the Daffodil Centre — a joint venture of Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney.
The resulting initiative, the Elimination Partnership in the Indo-Pacific for Cervical Cancer (EPICC), will leverage Australian, international and in-country partner expertise to accelerate the World Health Organization’s strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer.
Director of the Daffodil Centre Professor Karen Canfell said that while Australia was on track to be the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer, with a recently released national strategy, cervical cancer remained a leading cause of death in women in many neighbouring countries.
“Cervical cancer leads to huge global inequities in health outcomes, with countries like Australia on the cusp of reducing it to the status of a rare disease at the same time as it causes a terrible burden for women, families and entire communities on our doorstep,” Canfell said.
“This can all be turned around if we can implement the WHO Strategy for cervical cancer elimination, utilising well-established technologies — vaccination against human papillomavirus, which causes almost all cervical cancers, screening for early intervention and improved access to treatment.
“EPICC sets out a plan to work with partner countries in the region to put these interventions on a sustainable footing, with the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in the short term and millions over the century.”
Canfell said the proposal for EPICC drew on the success of the current Eliminating Cervical Cancer in the Western Pacific (ECCWP) project, funded by Australia’s Minderoo Foundation, which has led to sustainable cervical cancer interventions in Vanuatu and the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Minderoo’s Cancer Mission Director Professor Claire Wakefield said the organisation was delighted that the early results from ECCWP helped to make the case for Australian Government funding of the EPICC program to support more women in the region.
“Our focus is to address the inequity experienced by women and communities who do not have access to screening, vaccines and treatment, and support them by providing sustainable solutions,” Wakefield said.
“Accelerating the elimination of cervical cancer in our region is one of the strongest investments we can make to end this preventable disease.”
The University of Sydney also contributed funding to the EPICC consortium to support its efforts to eliminate cervical cancer.
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