New weapons against cancer
Illustrative image. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sharjah: Government representatives, academia, international organisations, and civil society entities participating in the 2nd Regional Cervical Cancer Forum, have affirmed their commitment to improving access to screenings, vaccines and treatment for HPV and cervical cancer in the Arab region in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Collectively, they adopted the 2nd Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer, which highlights advocating for regional and national cervical cancer strategies that align with global initiatives, and investing in better data collection for analysis and utilisation for evidence-based decision making, among other goals. The Sharjah Declaration is the culmination of key discussions and debates at the forum, which was held virtually by the Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP) from Sharjah under the theme ‘Accelerating Action on HPV and Cervical Cancer’.

The unanimous adoption of the 2nd Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer highlights the need for a collaborative approach in tackling the interconnected burdens of HPV and cervical cancer in the Arab region.

Better data collection

The stakeholders also committed to invest in better data collection, analysis and utilisation to support evidence-based decision making, as well as identifying and addressing current inequities in HPV vaccine and cervical cancer detection and treatment. They also endorsed the establishment of a robust monitoring framework for the progress of HPV vaccine implementation and cervical cancer elimination.

Lessons learnt from COVID-19 pandemic

The Declaration draws lessons from the quick response to COVID-19 by governments, which has allowed them to promptly allocate resources to procure and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, to apply the successful experiences in the roll-out of HPV vaccines.

Supporting the global strategy

The Sharjah Declaration also commits to support the Global Strategy for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, which aims to ensure that by 2023, 90 per cent of girls are fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15; 70 per cent of women are screened with high-performance tests by 35 and 45 years of age; and 90 per cent of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment.

The forum brought together more than 968 health care experts, policymakers and specialists from 11 countries, to discuss ways to support Sharjah’s agenda of evolving innovative, collaborative and practical cervical cancer prevention and elimination programmes.