Defeating Cancer TogetherJanuary 4
The fight against cancer is intensifying and it appears at least one of its forms – cervical cancer – can be eliminated within a generation. Nigerian correspondent Mubeen Azeez, 22, attended the London Global Cancer Week: Commonwealth Events in November 2021 and outlines the global three-step ’90-70-90′ plan to achieve this goal.
Every 10 seconds someone in the Commonwealth is diagnosed with it, and every 18 seconds it takes a life. Cancer – the second deadliest disease – is responsible for one in every six deaths globally. In the Commonwealth, seven million people are afflicted by it, as cancer rates have risen by 35 per cent in the last decade. The disease continues to bleed fragile economies and drain much-needed funds from other global concerns. But as scientists work to find a cure for all types of this remorseless and deadly disease, the world could be relatively close to ending at least one of its forms – cervical cancer.
The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus and a part of the female reproductive system. It has quite an important role, increasing in size and strength to protect a growing baby from conception to birth. Sadly, cancer has chosen to attack this precious organ. The result is that cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 311,000 deaths from cervical cancer each year, and of that number, 85 per cent occur in low and middle income countries.
But there is a plan that, if successfully implemented, could rid the world of this type of cancer within a generation. The Commonwealth is part of this global thrust and has established its own task force for the elimination of the disease. What’s the plan? Well, cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Interestingly, the world’s population can become immune to HPV with the help of vaccines that are already approved and have been found safe and effective. Other efforts to fight the disease include early screening for HPV or cervical cancer and prompt management of the disease if it is detected.
With this in mind, the path towards eliminating cervical cancer is a three-pronged approach. As the WHO outlines, it is a ‘90–70–90’ target that countries should meet by 2030. What this means is that, by that year, 90 per cent of girls should be fully vaccinated against HPV by the age of 15. Additionally, 70 per cent of women must be screened for the virus or disease by 35, and again by age 45. And finally, 90 per cent of women identified with cervical cancer must receive treatment.
The vision is clear and achievable. Cervical cancer can effectively be prevented through vaccination against HPV, or cured if it is diagnosed early and treated swiftly. Therefore, let us roll our collective sleeves and work concertedly towards eliminating this disease.
Can we do it? Yes, we can.
Photo Credits: Canva
About Mubeen Azeez: I’m a veterinary medical student, with a passion for social impact. I am also an advocate of justice and good governance. I work to materialize my vision of impacting the global community by righting wrongs with knowledge and experience, making the world a better place for all.