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Thursday, June 13, 2024

NHS England pledge to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040

NHS England is committing to eradicating cervical cancer by 2040, positioning England as one of the global pioneers in setting such an ambitious target.

Amanda Pritchard, chief of NHS England, will unveil this groundbreaking initiative at a health leaders’ conference.

The strategy to substantially diminish cervical cancer cases in the next two decades will center on bolstered vaccination and screening rates.

Currently, around 2,600 women in England are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually.

Catch-up vaccinations

A key aspect of the plan involves advocating for catch-up vaccinations in community settings, including libraries, halls, and sports venues, especially in areas with low vaccine uptake.

This practice is already underway in certain regions. Pritchard will also discuss plans to enhance the user-friendliness of the NHS app, enabling individuals to easily access their vaccination history and book appointments, thereby contributing to the broader campaign against cervical cancer.

Expressing the significance of this endeavor, Pritchard is expected to say: “It is truly momentous to be able to set out such an important, life-saving ambition today—to eliminate cervical cancer would be an incredible achievement.”

She will explain the crucial role of vaccination and screening in realising this goal and highlights the NHS’s efforts to facilitate easy access to protection.

Vaccination drive

Building on the success of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination program, the vaccination drive aims to leverage the expanded NHS App to enable individuals to view their complete vaccine record and book appointments for any missing vaccinations.

The app will also provide parents with their children’s vaccination status and guidance on appointment bookings.

The NHS, with over 32.8 million users on the app, plans to enhance its functionality, including features such as booking invitation alerts, in-app bookings, and appointment notifications. This expansion aims to streamline the vaccination process for the public.

In tandem with the vaccination initiative, the NHS is expanding cervical screening invitations, with over five million people aged 25 to 64 invited last year. Self-sampling will also be trialed to assess its viability for inclusion in national screening.

Cervical cancer elimination, according to the World Health Organisation, is achieved when the incidence rate falls below four per 100,000 women.

Preventing disease

Steve Russell, chief delivery officer for NHS England, underscores the power of vaccination and screening as crucial tools in preventing disease and maintaining public health.

The NHS has adapted its HPV vaccination program following JCVI guidance, opting for a single dose instead of two for under 25s. This change aims to enhance convenience and accessibility for young people.

Through routine and catch-up programs, significant progress has been made, with studies indicating the prevention of approximately 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.

While vaccinations are a cornerstone of the strategy, routine cervical screening remains essential. Despite invitations, a third of eligible women currently do not undergo screening.

Encouraging women to come forward for these appointments is crucial to the comprehensive approach to eliminating cervical cancer in England.


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