Participants at a United Nations-sponsored conference in Brussels have called for increased investment in vaccination, screening and treatment to eliminate cervical cancer, a preventable disease that kills 250,000 women annually – 80 per cent of them in developing countries.
The International Conference on the Fight against Cervical Cancer, convened by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the European Commission, brought together women leaders, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, private sector representatives and health professionals to discuss the prevention of cervical cancer.
Participants at the two-day meeting called on the pharmaceutical industry, donors and Governments to explore innovative partnerships to increase investment in vaccines and screening programmes.
Vaccine manufacturers at the conference committed to tiered pricing schemes, aimed at making vaccines affordable and available in developing countries.
“The low priority accorded the health of women and girls is a manifestation of gender inequality,” Acting UNIFEM Executive Director Joanne Sandler said. “We have a huge chance here, to demonstrate that the health of women and girls matters.”
Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Pappillioma Virus (HPV) – a common sexually transmitted disease – and primarily strikes women between the ages of 35 and 50.