19 May 2018 | Press release

Unitaid launches call for proposals to help eliminate cervical cancer

Geneva – Unitaid is seeking to fund smart, innovative projects that will help eliminate cervical cancer, a leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries, particularly among women with HIV.

One woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, with about 90 percent of the deaths occurring in less affluent countries. Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), an extremely common group of viruses.

The HPV projects that Unitaid will fund would improve and expand screening and treatment for cervical cancer, with special attention given to women living with HIV. They are particularly vulnerable given that HIV/HPV co-infection progresses more quickly to cervical cancer.

“Unitaid is committed to promote innovative technologies that will empower women to screen for cervical cancer and access treatment more quickly and easily,“ said Lelio Marmora, Unitaid Executive Director. “Too often we hear tragic stories of women in low-income countries who travel long distances to access a health clinic only to discover they have late-stage cervical cancer.“

With this call for proposals, Unitaid aims to contribute to eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem, an objective set by the World Health Organization at this year’s World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva.

“Through cost-effective, evidence-based interventions, including HPV vaccination of girls, screening  and  treatment of pre-cancerous lesions, and improving access to diagnosis and treatment of invasive cancers,  we can eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem and make it a disease of the past,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

This HPV call seeks projects that would:

In high-income countries, strategies that identify women at risk of cervical cancer and provide them with early treatment have dramatically reduced illness and death. In most low- and middle-income countries, screening and treatment are very limited.

Through its calls, Unitaid finds new ideas to help alleviate the burden of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. A review committee of independent experts in global health helps Unitaid choose the best proposals to fund through a competitive selection process.

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