Two new federally funded cervical cancer projects will help advance the country’s aim of eliminating the disease by 2035, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Coinciding with the inaugural World Cervical Cancer Elimination Day (Wednesday, 17 November), the announced projects will deliver $5.8 million of funding for a National Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy by the end of the 2022, and additional support for the ongoing Compass Trial program.
Development of the strategy will be led by the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC), who alongside the Daffodil Centre, lead the Compass Trial.
The trial, which began in 2016, compares HPV screening methodologies for cervical cancer against those which use the pap smear method. Results from the trials will help determine the future shape of the National Cervical Screening Program, according to the ACPCC.
The Health Minister said that it was crucial that Australia remained proactive in pursuing its goals of elimination, which would put the nation at the forefront of the World Health Organization’s aim to eradicate cervical cancer globally by the end of the 21st century.
“We… do not rest on our laurels, there is more work to be done,” Mr Hunt said.
“Our government continues to work to ensure as many people as possible engage with the support available, particularly by ensuring access and equity in under-screened groups.”
The new strategy will operate in alignment with the World Health Organization’s “triple-intervention” approach to the elimination of cervical cancer, inclusive of “vaccination, screening and treatment targets”, according to the ACPCC.
It will also, according to Professor Marion Saville, the Executive Director of the ACPCC and Compass Trials, help address current inequities in the treatment of the disease.
“We are proud to support the Australian government to develop a collaborative national plan with a strong focus on addressing current inequities so that Australia can achieve elimination of this preventable disease for everyone,” Professor Saville said.
“This funding represents a major and important contribution to the health of women and people with a cervix across Australia.”
Yesterday’s announcement isn’t the first time that the federal government has thrown its weight behind efforts to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia.
Since 2012-13, it has spent more than $386 million on HPV vaccines, distributing more than 6.4 million doses, while from July next year, people will be able to self-collect cervical cancer test results, making “the process easier, more comfortable and less invasive,” according to the government.