January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. A preventable and curable disease, it is one that starkly highlights the inequities within healthcare, with the highest number of the deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. This reflects major inequities driven by lack of access to national HPV vaccination, cervical screening and treatment services for women and other genders concerned and social and economic determinants in relation to universal access to health care and women’s equalities in societies. (World Health Organization, 2024)
The SRHM journal has been publishing articles on the elimination of cervical cancer since its inception in 1993. In 1995, the SRHM paper ‘Cervical cancer: Evolving prevention strategies for developing countries’ by Bishop, et al. published that “80 percent of deaths occur in women in developing countries’ ‘. The paper called for the feedback of women, healthcare providers, key community leaders and policy makers to be carefully considered when planning cervical cancer control programmes and concludes that “cervical cancer is an urgent problem – after years of inaction it requires urgent attention” (Bishop et al. 1995). Almost 30 years later, the number quoted in 1995 has increased to almost 90 percent. By now we know that cervical cancer is preventable and curable, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Yet it is the 4th most common form of cancer among women worldwide, with the disease claiming the lives of more than 300 000 women in 2018.
Accelerating action for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem, in 2018 WHO announced a global call for action to eliminate cervical cancer, underscoring renewed political will to make elimination a reality and calling for all stakeholders to unite behind this common goal. In August 2020 the World Health Assembly adopted the Global Strategy for cervical cancer elimination uniting states for urgent action to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health, a women’s rights and gender equality problem.
Standing witht the SRHR community, SRHM is calling for urgent action to implement and scale up cervical cancer screening and treatment programmes, increase research and collaboration to develop cost-effective and innovative interventions for vaccination, screening, diagnosis, treatment and care in respect of cervical cancer. We are also calling for the recognition that cervical cancer is a matter of respect, protection and fulfilment of women’s rights and the rights of persons who needs these services.
SRHM has been publishing relevant research and analysis in relation to cervical cancer for the past 30 years.
Please find below summaries of the 2023 papers on cervical cancer as well as a list of further reading from the SRHM journal from the previous 5 years.
Sound, evidence-based and rights-grounded knowledge is of critical importance to the decisions to be made and the actions to be taken to improve SRHR for all. Now, more than ever.
In “Good progress in a number of areas of ASRH, but there is much more that needs to be done” Elsie Akwara & Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli show that although adolescent sexual and reproductive health has seen significant progress globally, there is scope for more, especially in the five key areas of the prevention of cervical cancer, adolescent pregnancy and childbearing, HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Published in 2023, a study by Samuel Yohannes Ayanto and colleagues finds that behavioural change communication and system-strengthening efforts are necessary to address the gaps associated with the poor implementation of cervical cancer screening in resource-limited settings such as Southern Ethiopia.
A review by Isis Umbelino-Walker and colleagues in the SRHM Journal finds that there is a need to raise awareness on female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) and its links to cervical cancer, HIV, infertility, and other sexual and reproductive ill-health. They emphasize that integrating FGS prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment into SRH programmes and services, including cervical cancer services, has immense potential to strengthen the health system to reach the most marginalised women and girls with holistic women-centred health care.
Setting up a research agenda for financing sexual and reproductive health services toward achieving universal health coverage in South Asia
Avishek Hazra, Arupendra Mozumdar, Iram Kamran, et al.
What we know and don’t know: a mapping review of available evidence, and evidence gaps, on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Bangladesh
Anna Williams, Abu Sayed Hasan, Muhammad Munir Hussain, et al.
Feasibility of HPV self-sampling pathway in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal using a human-centred design approach
Swastika Shrestha, Saki Thapa, Paul Sims, Andreea Ardelean, et al.
“I’m neither here, which would be bad, nor there, which would be good”: the information needs of HPV+ women. A qualitative study based on in-depth interviews and counselling sessions in Jujuy, Argentina
Lucila Szwarc, Victoria Sánchez Antelo, Melisa Paolino & Silvina Arrossi
Mapping the scientific literature on reproductive health among transgender and gender diverse people: a scoping review
Madina Agénor, Gabriel R. Murchison, Jesse Najarro, et al.
The cost-effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health and rights interventions in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review
Andrea Hannah Kaiser, Björn Ekman, Madeleine Dimarco & Jesper Sundewall
Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services in Thailand: achievements and challenges
Warisa Panichkriangkrai, Chompoonut Topothai, Nithiwat Saengruang, et al.
Integration of sexual and reproductive health services in the provision of primary health care in the Arab States: status and a way forward
Tamar Kabakian-Khasholian, Harumi Quezada-Yamamoto, Ahmed Ali, et al.