Saving lives through cervical cancer prevention

Healthcare agencies, policymakers, patient advocacy organisations, industry and funding institutions must work together to bring HPV cervical screening where it is needed most.

In many parts of the world, strides are being made toward our shared goal of eliminating cervical cancer.

In the U.S. for example, the rate of cervical cancer among young women fell 65 percent between 2012 and 2019.1 Vaccination, screening, early detection and treatment for human papillomavirus - or HPV - are credited for the decline.

But not all women and people with a cervix have access to these innovations, and the rate of cervical cancer continues to rise in some low and middle income countries.2 As a result, more than 342,000 women die each year from cervical cancer,3 which is caused by HPV infection in most cases.4

Only by working together to expand access to innovations that include HPV vaccination, screening and treatment can we reach the World Health Organization (WHO) cervical cancer elimination goals.

Impact to society

About 90 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in low to middle income countries, where most women have never been screened. Africa has the greatest burden of cervical cancer, with about a quarter of the global cases, says Dr. Allan Pamba, Executive Vice President Africa for Roche Diagnostics, who lives in Kenya.

The HIV epidemic, with its epicentre in sub-Saharan Africa, makes the women’s health crisis even more challenging. Women living with HIV are six times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women without HIV.4

“In Africa, many women present with advanced cervical cancer, when there is little that can be done.They suffer and die, with no end-of-life care, leaving behind children who largely depend on their mothers for survival."
Dr. Allan Pamba
Executive Vice President Africa, Roche Diagnostics

“An entire family system collapses, and indeed many of these children suffer enhanced exposure to malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia or even malnutrition because the mother is not there,” says Allan, who served as a physician in rural communities in East Africa.

Healthcare agencies, policymakers, patient advocacy organisations, industry and funding institutions must work together to expand access to HPV screening, Allan says.

“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer,” says survivor, activist and mother of two Kadiana Vegee. Kadiana, who lives in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, raises awareness about disease prevention as a member of Cervivor, a nonprofit organisation that brings patients together. “We can eliminate cervical cancer if we are vaccinated and if we have our screenings on time.”

Prevention through partnership

To help reach this goal, partnerships in countries that include Mozambique and Peru are expanding access to HPV testing and cervical self-sampling, where patients can collect their own samples. HPV self-sampling can help reduce the challenges women in more rural communities face, based on a lack of transportation, means or time to travel to a clinic. It can also increase comfort for women and put the power of prevention into patients’ hands.

Joanna Sickler, Global Health Policy Lead at Roche Diagnostics, advocates with global governments to increase national cervical cancer screening programs. She spoke with 21 African First Ladies as part of U.S. First Lady Jill Biden’s spousal program during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in 2022.

Joanna shared details of a programme between Roche, the Mozambique Ministry of Health and U.S. agencies to increase cervical screening in that country.

With an initial goal of screening 12,000 women for HPV infection, the program had screened 3,030 people as of November 2022. Of those, 1,282 - or 42 percent - were positive for high-risk HPV. About 400 required treatment to eliminate disease that can lead to cervical cancer.

“The goal of the project is to not just screen women for cervical cancer but to also link them to treatment, because there is no point in spending resources on screening if you are not going to get treatment,” Joanna told the First Ladies.

“We must work together for a world where national screening programs for cervical cancer are available everywhere."
Joanna Sickler
Global Health Policy Lead, Roche Diagnostics

Stefan Seliger, Head of Global Access and Policy at Roche Diagnostics, said the societal cost of cervical cancer is far greater than the cost of prevention programs, like those in Mozambique and Peru. Since 2021, the Roche partnership with Peru’s Ministry of Health has screened about 110,000 women who otherwise may not have had access to cervical self-sampling and HPV testing.

Through partnerships, Roche is helping remove the most critical barriers to ensure women everywhere benefit from equitable access to healthcare.

“Hundreds of thousands of women die unnecessarily because they weren't screened in time to prevent cancer from occurring,” Stefan said. “It is our responsibility to work together across the globe to create opportunities for screening for this highly preventable disease. It’s really a moral obligation.”

Did you know?
  • For every 100 mothers who die from cervical or breast cancer in resource-poor settings, 14 children die before their 10th birthday and 210 become maternal orphans, according to estimates.2

  • With vaccination, screening and treatment, cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable

Read more about cervical cancer prevention and the Roche Global Access Program.

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  1. Accessed 27 February 2023

  2. Singh D, et al. Global estimates of incidence and mortality of cervical cancer in 2020: a baseline analysis of the WHO Global Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative. The Lancet Global Health [Internet]. 2022 Dec [cited 2023 Mar 1]. Available from:

  3. World Health Organization. (2022). Human papillomavirus (HPV) nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs)to screen for cervical pre-cancer lesions and prevent cervical cancer. Available at Accessed 28 February 2023

  4. World Health Organization. (2022). Cervical Cancer. Available at Accessed 17 April 2023


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