Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Nine hundred sixty-eight authorities as well as supporters of local and international programmes against the rise of cervical cancer, caused by the highly transmittable Human Papillomavirus (HPV), have affirmed their commitment to the “Second Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer 2021.”
The 968 from 11 countries spread in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas were the virtual participants at the Jan. 27 to 28 “Second Regional Cervical Cancer Forum.” They are healthcare specialists/experts; officials and members of local, national and international institutions; academicians; government representatives; and civil society individuals like the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), networked with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The forum was under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, and Founder and Royal Patron of FOCP, International Ambassador of the World Declaration for the UICC and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC.
The document was the output of the 968 who specifically discussed cancer of the cervix cases and incidences across the Arab World composed of Algeria, Bahrain, Comoro, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen. At the forum co-organised by the FOCP and the United Nations Population Fund-Arab States Regional Office, World Health Organisation (WHO)-Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office specialists reported that cancer of the cervix cases in these countries vary and considered among in the low-end when compared to global statistics. However, if complacency on prevention and treatment, and negligence in data collection prevail over the determination, the incidences as well as deaths would definitely double from the 2012 to 2035 figures. Specifically, 8,974 deaths of 17,835 cases in 2012 with estimates of 11,694 deaths of 22,654 incidences in 2020; 16,241 deaths of 30,548 cases in 2030; and 18,849 deaths of 34,733 incidences in 2035. Some of the speakers pressed on for boys and men to be inoculated as well against the HPV, particularly against the 16 and 18 strains. They argued that cervical cancer is a result of careless sexual behaviours.
The document in part reads: “We strongly pledge our commitment to the health and well-being of girls and women globally and the need to tackle the interconnected burdens of HPV and cervical cancer in the Arab Region. We agree with the goal of the “UN Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control” to build on the world’s collective endeavours so that in a generation, death from cervical cancer ceases to be a public health issue.”
The “UN Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control” focuses on the HPV immunisation for girls, screening and treatment for cervical pre-cancer available for women, and diagnosis and treatment of invasive cervical cancer including palliative care available to all women. Approaches are the provision of technical assistance to all countries, the provision of assistance to all governments relative to mobilising resources so these could carry out their respective national cervical cancer programmes, and the formation of partnerships as well as collaborations with like-minded stakeholders and international organisations towards cervical cancer prevention and treatment.
The document reiterates the commitment of the 968 to the “Global Cervical Cancer Strategy” agreed upon by 194 governments at the Nov. 17, 2020 WHO-World Health Assembly; the aim of which is that by 2030, the disease is fully eradicated, which starts with the 90 per cent of girls fully vaccinated against HPV by the age of 15, 70 per cent of women screened with a high-performance test by ages 35 and 45, and 90 per cent of women having received either pre-cancer or invasive cancer treatments.
The 968 stated that the “90-70-90” goal by 2030 is possible to attain, as the research and development on vaccines against the notorious SARS-CoV2 is continually proving. Similar to the views of everyone trying to resolve the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, the 968 said there must be equity in the distribution of HPV vaccines.
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