AFRO Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative

Partnership objectives

  1. Encourage women to seek cervical cancer screening and medical help in case of early symptoms. 
  2. Provide health workers appropriate information and skills on cervical cancer to meet the needs of all women. 

The partnership will implement cancer prevention and control activities in four countries with a high burden of cervical cancer. The partnership will implement cancer prevention and control activities in four countries with a high burden of cervical cancer. Copyright WHO AFRO / IFPMA

What are the health needs and challenges?

Cancer is an emerging public health problem throughout the African Region; and breast and cervical cancers are among the most common cancers affecting women. In sub-Saharan Africa, the incidence of cervical cancer and breast cancer is no higher than in other parts of the world, but the risk of death among women with either disease is much higher than in high-income countries – eight times higher in the case of cervical cancer. This is because too many African women are diagnosed too late which hampers effective treatment and care. In sub-Saharan Africa, 22.5 per 100,000 women die from cervical cancer, compared to 2.5 per 100,000 women in North America.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

WHO AFRO is one of the six regions of WHO whose mission is the attainment by all peoples of the highest level of health across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Organization’s presence in the region consists of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, a Secretariat for the African Region, three Inter-country Support Teams (ISTs), WHO Country Offices located in 47 Member States, and a Liaison Office for the AU and ECA located in Addis Ababa.

The AFRO Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative will work across the African Region to improve awareness; help empower women and healthcare professionals to improve prevention, screening and treatment rates of breast and cervical cancers. 

Supported by some funding and in-kind contributions from IFPMA, the partnership will implement cancer prevention and control activities in four countries with a high burden of cervical cancer: Cameroon, Uganda, Swaziland and Zambia, in collaboration with the respective ministries of health. In addition, the partnership will work with healthcare providers to improve their knowledge about screening strategies.

“There are many obstacles to cervical cancer screening in resource-constrained countries, generally attributed to the lack of infrastructure as well as technical, medical and financial resources, and a lack of awareness and education on cervical cancer among women and healthcare providers,” explains Dr Abdikamal Alisalad, Acting Director, Non-Communicable Diseases, at WHO Regional Office for Africa. Many lives can be saved if public awareness is strengthened on the importance of testing and early treatment,” he added. 

“Partnerships are the way forward when dealing with complex challenges such as those posed by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Working across sectors enables partners to generate health outcomes that are transformational, hence sustainable. We are delighted to support WHO AFRO in implementing strategies that help alleviate the NCD burden in low- and middle-income countries,”says Eduardo Pisani, Director General, IFPMA.  He adds, “IFPMA has been pioneering sector-wide partnerships that address prevention of NCDs for a number of years now, working with a wide range of partners including the PAHO Foundation, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, The International Telecommunication Union, and The World Health Professions Alliance”. 

Commenting on the need to strengthen public-private partnerships such as this one, Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Head Secretariat of the WHO Global Coordinating Mechanism on NCDs (GCM/NCD) at WHO HQ in Geneva said: “There is an urgent need to scale up the multiple contributions from the diverse range of private sector entities for the prevention and control of NCDs at national level, while effectively safeguarding public health interests from undue influence by any form of real, perceived or potential conflict of interest. This is a concrete example of how governments can work with the private sector to realize their commitments on NCDs, as outlined and promised through high-level political declarations.”

Partnership information

Company(ies) IFPMA

Partner(s) World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) IGOs

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Cancer, Cervical Cancer

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Health professionals, Women

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 4

Country(ies) Cameroon, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia

Start Date 2016

More information WHO AFRO Website

Anticipated completion date Ongoing