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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

African voices unite to drive cervical cancer elimination across the continent through new civil society coalition – The African Cervical Health Alliance (ACHA)

The African Cervical Health Alliance (ACHA) has been launched to empower communities and increase access to prevention and control of cervical cancer in Africa by 2030 in line with global targets; the ACHA Secretariat is hosted by KILELE Health Association, with catalytic support from FIND (www.FINDdx.org).

The launch of the African Cervical Health Alliance (ACHA) was announced today, ahead of the anniversary marking the global commitment to eliminate cervical cancer. An online event showcased the power of civil society to galvanize action in pursuit of cervical cancer elimination across the continent. The event, hosted by KILELE Health Association as ACHA Secretariat, featured speakers from the ACHA membership from African countries. These included community organizations, public health officials, policy makers, and voices from those with lived experience of the disease.

Cervical cancer is both preventable and curable if detected early, through highly effective HPV vaccines, high-performing HPV DNA screening tests, and early treatment of precancerous lesions. But while awareness of the positive impact of vaccination and value of screening and treatment for women, their families and economies has improved, today, cervical cancer remains the one of the deadliest cancers among women in Sub-Saharan Africa – because women in these countries simply do not have access to these life-saving measures.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and governments around the world have made a commitment that cervical cancer will be the first cancer ever in the world to be eliminated, setting “907090” targets for 2030 that can put all countries on the pathway to this achievement: 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15, 70% of women screened by the age of 35 years and then again at 45 years, and 90% of women with pre-cancer or invasive cancer treated.

Experience from the fight against HIV/AIDS has shown that civil society organizations play a pivotal role in addressing health challenges, by advocating for policy change, raising awareness, and providing education and support to those affected. ACHA is mobilizing organizations from across the African continent to similarly unlock progress towards cervical cancer elimination, by improving access to quality healthcare, empowering women to make informed health decisions, and bringing services closer to those who need them. In collaboration with stakeholders, ACHA will leverage resources and expertise, contributing to women’s health, and protecting families and livelihoods.

With catalytic support from FIND, ACHA is launching with a membership of 22 organizations (https://apo-opa.co/3R0l1eT) representing 15 African countries, focused on five workstreams:

Targeted advocacy, supported by research
Focused capacity building and training
Sustainable resource mobilization
Strategic community engagement and outreach
Tailored communications and informational materials.

Benda N. Kithaka, Executive Director, KILELE Health Association, said: “ACHA desk reviews have shown that there is little research shaping community engagement in Africa, despite the fact that our continent is the hardest hit by cervical cancer, with the pain, suffering and deaths from this disease being the highest in the world. Our women are excited to be a significant contributor to change cervical cancer effects on the families; and we know women in African communities are ready to take up elimination. ACHA members are uniting behind the call to governments to follow through on their global commitments to 907090. We encourage others to join us and make this happen.”

Dr Angela Muriuki, Director of Women’s Health at FIND, said: “At FIND, we strongly believe that cervical cancer could be eliminated within a generation. We can only achieve this through true partnership with women and communities and creating a platform for African voices to lead the drive towards elimination in Africa. We are delighted to support the formation and strengthening of ACHA as we know empowerment of women will be key to accelerating uptake of national screening programmes, and that screening is critical so that today’s generation of women do not miss out.”

With a rallying cry of “don’t drop the ball!” ACHA warmly encourages interested organizations to reach out to partner, join or support ACHA. Please contact the Secretariat at [email protected].

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FIND.

Media contacts
Benda N. Kithaka, Executive Director, KILELE Health Association
M: +254724635680
[email protected]

Sarah-Jane Loveday, Director, Communications, FIND
M: +41 79 431 62 44
[email protected]

About the global commitment to eliminate cervical cancer:
In May 2018, the WHO Director-General 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 (https://apo-opa.co/47vIlGH) as a public health problem, with the ultimate aim of reducing cervical cancer incidence to fewer than four women per 100,000 women-years worldwide. Achieving that goal rests on three key pillars and their corresponding targets described in the WHO global strategy (https://apo-opa.co/47a7tCY).

A mathematical model illustrates the following interim benefits of achieving the 90-70-90 targets by 2030 in low- and lower-middle-income countries (Canfell et al (https://apo-opa.co/40EkemU); Brisson et al (https://apo-opa.co/49PsdSv)):

median cervical cancer incidence rate will fall by 42% by 2045, and by 97% by 2120, averting more than 74 million new cases of cervical cancer;
median cumulative number of cervical cancer deaths averted will be 300,000 by 2030, over 14 million by 2070, and over 62 million by 2120.

The WHO cervical cancer elimination initiative celebrates the ambition to eliminate cervical cancer every year on 17 November: https://apo-opa.co/47p1Ws2

About KILELE Health Association:
KILELE Health Association is Kenyan grassroots non-profit organization, registered in Kenya under the Societies Act (CAP.108), registration number R.53480. Our Vision is a Kenya with reduced burden, severity and impact of cancer and other NCDS on its peoples’ health, wealth and livelihoods. Our Mission is to increase access to information, resources, capacities and services for prevention, management and control of cancer, while empowering communities to own their health for prosperity and in attainment of optimal quality of life. KILELE Health is committed to meaningfully engaging Survivors, Caregivers and other stakeholders as agents of change, by improving understanding of the link between disease prevention, survivorship and quality of life. We therefore work closely with our members to promote excellence in the advancement of care for persons living with chronic health conditions and their caregivers, by providing a forum to exchange skills, knowledge and ideas towards the attainment of optimal quality of life. www.KILELEHealth.org/ACHA

About FIND:
FIND accelerates equitable access to reliable diagnosis around the world. We are working to close critical testing gaps that leave people at risk from preventable and treatable illnesses, enable effective disease surveillance, and build sustainable, resilient health systems. In partnership with countries, WHO and other global health agencies, we are driving progress towards global health security and universal health coverage. We are a WHO Collaborating Centre for Laboratory Strengthening and Diagnostic Technology Evaluation. For more information, please visit www.FINDdx.org.

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