Accelerating Action on Human Papillomavirus and Cervical Cancer
Sharjah/Cairo, January 21, 2021 – The UAE-based civil society organization Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), is partnering with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to host the second edition of Cervical Cancer Forum, virtually on 27 and 28 January 2021.
‘Accelerating Action on HPV and Cervical Cancer’ is the theme of the Forum that will be held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Founder and Patron of FOCP.
The two-day virtual Forum will build on the success of the inaugural Cervical Cancer Forum held in Sharjah in 2019 and enjoys the support of local, regional and international health authorities, and centres of medical knowledge such as the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and the World Health Organization.
The Forum will allow active interaction among panelists, speakers and audience members, ensuring the efficiency of discussions and outcomes. It brings together pioneering actors and global stakeholders in the field including, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), global health Institutes and University Hospitals, pioneer researchers, and policy makers, media and communication experts and academia who will push the agenda of cervical cancer prevention and explore ways to foster collaboration, to address regional and national responses to HPV and cervical cancer in the Arab region more effectively.
It will discuss the establishment of sustainable and equitable cervical cancer and HPV eradication programmes, including in health crisis settings such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will also review the success of the ‘Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer’ adopted by the debut edition of the Forum in 2019.
The Second Cervical Cancer Forum will propose a set of recommendations and a call for action that integrates the pillars of prevention, treatment, palliative care, and social aspects globally and specifically in the Arab region.
According to a 2018 study, cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) is the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths among women aged 15 years and above in the UAE. In addition, nearly 7,600 women in the Arab region died from cervical cancer in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“WHO and UNFPA Global Strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer was launched in November 2020, of which UNFPA will be leading on the execution of the strategy,” said Dr. Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA Regional Director for the Arab States. He added that this Global Strategy was launched in November 2020, and UNFPA is committed to advance the work on cervical cancer as one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. “We work towards scaling up access to proper education and crucial preventive, testing and treatment tools in order to ensure a comprehensive approach to cervical cancer control,” Shabaneh noted.
“Cervical cancer is often preventable, and FOCP has been at the forefront of increasing this awareness in the UAE and the region,” H.E. Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FOCP Board of Directors, said, adding: “No woman has to die from cervical cancer here in the UAE, or anywhere. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus and through early detection and vaccination, we can help prevent countless women from developing the disease.”
She emphasized that with focused resources and increased awareness, deaths from cervical cancer worldwide could be greatly reduced. “Simply put, death from cervical cancer is preventable with vaccination, screening and proper treatment. I strongly urge individuals, institutions and other stakeholders to help us arrest this disease at both national and regional levels.”
UNFPA Arab States Regional Office and FOCP signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2020 to boost collaborative efforts in reducing the burden of cervical cancer on the Arab states.