Global meeting identifies cost-effective approaches to cervical cancer prevention

December 05, 2005

JHPIEGO demonstrates that a "single visit approach" using Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) is safe, acceptable, feasible and cost-effective

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death among women in developing countries. From December 4-7, 2005, Ministries of Health, U.S. government agencies, leading clinical experts and reproductive health professionals from the United States, Asia, Africa and Latin America will convene in Bangkok, Thailand to address cervical cancer prevention in low-resource settings.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Glaxo Smith Kline and Digene, JHPIEGO, an international health affiliate of The Johns Hopkins University, is sponsoring this meeting "Preventing Cervical Cancer: From Research to Practice", in collaboration with the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine.

The Royal Thai Ministry of Public Health and JHPIEGO's President and CEO Leslie D. Mancuso, PhD, RN, FAAN, welcome an international panel of speakers, including Paul D. Blumenthal, Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Khunying Kobchitt Limpaphayom, JHPIEGO's Cervical Cancer Project Director, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and representatives from the World Health Organization. More than 100 participants from more than 15 countries will learn about innovative cervical cancer screening techniques and how to implement a high-quality, sustainable program. "JHPIEGO is honored to host this global meeting to share the proven, life-saving strategies, innovative service delivery and training approaches, as well as community mobilization and education techniques. Hopefully we'll also inspire attending countries to adopt these screening methods. On a scientific-level, we're talking about reducing the incidence of invasive cervical cancer in a cost-effective way. But on a human-level, we're talking about saving mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters and friends," comments Dr. Mancuso.

Worldwide, an estimated 470,000 new cases occur and over 230,000 women die annually from cervical cancer. Eighty percent of these deaths occur among women in the prime of their lives, busy with family and child-rearing, who live in the world's neediest countries.
JHPIEGO's Cervical Cancer Prevention Program (CECAP) is unique in its field. In addition to conducting research to assess new approaches and developing strategies and best practices training materials, CECAP also demonstrates how the research is translated into real-world programs that save lives.

In developed countries, Pap smears remain the most common method to detect cervical cancer; however, in countries where resources are limited, Pap smears are too costly and impractical. CECAP has demonstrated that a "single visit approach" using Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA), linked with cryotherapy treatment, is safe, acceptable, feasible and cost-effective. A once-in-a-lifetime screening using VIA linked with cryotherapy is more cost-effective than Pap smears and actually less costly than no screening at all (Goldie et al, JAMA 2001). In other words this approach offers significant public health benefits in countries where no preventive efforts exist.

With funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JHPIEGO has been working in Thailand and Ghana since 1999. During that time, the number of women being screened with VIA in Thailand jumped from only 5 percent to as high as 80 percent in some regions with more than 150,000 women being screened. Ghana had less than 1 percent of women screened annually and now over 15,000 have received screenings. As a result of the demonstration projects, both Thailand and Ghana have endorsed the "single visit approach" as an alternative to cytology-based screening.

JHPIEGO has received a two-year funding extension of $914,000 from the Gates Foundation to continue cervical cancer prevention work in Thailand and Ghana. With the new award, JHPIEGO will conduct an evaluation of programmatic outcomes--such as trends in service utilization and screening coverage--resulting from the demonstration projects.

JHPIEGO, (pronounced "JA-PYE-GO"), an international health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., builds global and local partnerships to enhance the quality of health care services for women and families through training and support for health care providers including doctors, nurses, midwives and health educators working in limited-resource settings throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe.

JHPIEGO has Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, HIV/AIDS, and Family Planning and Reproductive Health to strengthen services to women and families in more than 40 countries around the world.

About Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University is Thailand's oldest university, founded in 1917 by His Majesty King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). It now offers more than 351 study programs in 19 faculties and 16 specialized institutes and colleges. There are almost 2,800 faculty staff in addition to modern laboratories and other facilities.

Johns Hopkins University

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