The World Health Organization targets for cervical cancer control by 2030: a baseline assessment in six African countries—part I

7 Oct 2022
Daniela Cristina Stefan, Jean-Marie Dangou, Prebo Barango, Issimouha Dille Mahamadou, Sharon Kapambwe

Aim: We present and analyse the findings of a survey of the readiness of the healthcare systems in Eswatini, Guinea, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, to implement the necessary measures for attaining the targets for cervical cancer control, set by The World Health Organization (WHO), by the year 2030.

Methods: A questionnaire with 129 questions with preset answer options was completed in 2020, by ministries of health programme coordinators for non-communicable diseases, cancer control and/or reproductive health, and by WHO country offices, in the six countries selected.

Results: The findings on demographics, burden of disease, governance and management, laboratory services, equipment, supplies and medicines, as well as on personnel and training are presented here. The burden of cervical cancer in the countries studied is considerable, according to The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimations. The incidence of the disease is augmented by the high prevalence of HIV infection, in most of the countries surveyed. Most of the population live in rural areas, where access to the health services is far from ideal. Facilities for screening with human papilloma virus tests and for histopathology are limited. One pathologist covers the diagnostic needs of between 0.5 and 4 million inhabitants. Most other categories of health professionals are under-represented, and the capacity to train them is inadequate.

Conclusions: Strong country commitment and leadership, innovative solutions and extensive international cooperation would be needed to attain the targets of cervical cancer control set by WHO, in these countries.

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