Blog

Preparing US Gov’t for 2019 World Health Assembly

TogetHER’s Executive Director, Celina Schocken, gave remarks today to representatives from various U.S. Government departments who are preparing to participate in the World Health Assembly later this month. The 72nd Session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Assembly will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 20 – 28 May 2019. Executive Director’s remarks: On behalf of TogetHER for Health, a global cervical cancer organization, I would like to offer comments on WHA agenda item 11.8, namely the follow-up to last year’s UNGA High-Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases.[1] TogetHER for Health works with health care providers, advocates, donors, and…

More...
TogetHER for Health

Saving Lives with HPV Immunization

Vaccines are among the amazing tools that modern medicine offers us to fight disease. This year during World Immunization Week—April 24-30—TogetHER for Health celebrates the lifesaving vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer. Since it came into use less than twenty-five years ago, the HPV vaccine has made possible an audacious vision: the elimination of cervical cancer around the world, and an end to the hundreds of thousands of deaths it causes each year. In places where the vaccine has been administered to large percentages of the target population, there has been a measurable…

More...
TogetHER for Health

New TogetHER Grant Program Supports Cervical Cancer Prevention

The goal of ending cervical cancer deaths is at once inspiring and frustrating. Effective tools to prevent cervical cancer exist, and yet for lack of resources, hundreds of thousands of women and girls cannot currently access them. The estimated 311,000 cervical cancer deaths annuallyare overwhelmingly in low-resource settings where people are challenged to receive adequate health care. To bridge the gap between the unmet need and the solutions at hand, TogetHER for Health has launched a new Cervical Cancer Grants Programto address access barriers and strengthen and speed the adoption of cervical cancer prevention technologies. TogetHER’s member organizationscollaborated on the Program’s design, shaping…

More...
TogetHER for Health

Lifeline to Ghanaian Women at Risk for Cervical Cancer

There is great hope for the eventual elimination of cervical cancer, because it is a preventable disease. But due to low access to prevention tools, cervical cancer still currently causes around 311,000 annual deaths globally. The overwhelming majority of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries like Ghana, where an estimated 2,119 women died from cervical cancer in 2018.[i]   Screening women for cervical cancer and treating any precancerous lesions that are discovered – a procedure called screen-and-treat – is one of the prevention tools that are not accessible to all women in Ghana and elsewhere. One obstacle is…

More...
TogetHER for Health

Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Cervical Cancer

(This post first appeared on the Global Health NOW blog: bit.ly/2t2MQHD)   This is a story about my best friend’s mother and my mother’s best friend. One died from cervical cancer. One survived. They lived in the same rural Kenyan village where I grew up. No one there ever talked about the disease, which killed 311,365 women globally last year, the majority living in communities across Africa and Asia. No one knew it was caused by a common virus, HPV, that is preventable—or that when detected early, it’s easily treatable. Women who went to the clinic—or even to a hospital—never…

More...
TogetHER for Health

A Big Year Ahead for Cervical Cancer Prevention

(This post first appeared on the Panorama Global blog: http://panoramaglobal.org/point_of_view/a-big-year-ahead-for-cervical-cancer-prevention/)   Big global gains against cervical cancer are possible with sustained attention and investment, and gains are urgently needed. Even though it is preventable, cervical cancer is a leading cause of women’s deaths, especially where access to basic health care is lacking in low-income countries. The two of us realized that we’re witnessing a moment of opportunity a few months ago, as we moved between lively meetings and events on the sidelines of last fall’s 3rd High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases at the United Nations. Cervical cancer was a hot topic…

More...
TogetHER for Health

World AIDS Day 2018

Linking cervical cancer prevention and HIV services   TogetHER joins HIV and AIDS activists worldwide to commemorate the 30th annual World AIDS Day on December 1st. HIV and cervical cancer are closely linked. Women living with HIV are around five times as vulnerable to cervical cancer as their HIV-negative peers, and twice as likely to die from invasive cervical cancer. Put simply, cervical cancer is one of the main causes of death for women living with HIV.   The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the theme “Know Your Status” for this year’s commemoration, and it resonates strongly with us. Knowing…

More...

Changing the Cervical Screening Paradigm in Malaysia: Project ROSE

Malaysia is a country with high human development, as defined by the UN Development Program, and it has low maternal mortality and under-5 mortality rates – key indicators of the strong state of its health system. Health care facilities are readily accessible to women, and campaigns have urged women to be screened for cervical cancer, yet uptake of screening is low. Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if caught early, but an estimated 944 Malaysian women will die of it in 2018.   The founders of Project ROSE (Removing Obstacles in Cervical Screening) sought and found a way to improve…

More...

Powerful Voices for Eliminating Cervical Cancer at UN Side Event

On the eve of the 3rdUnited Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), a panel of international experts spotlighted cervical cancer, which is one NCD that could be eliminated as a public health problem by scaling up access to the tools already available.   Elimination is “a cost-effective investment,” said panelist Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organization’s department addressing NCDs. Princess Dina Mired, President-elect of the Union for International Cancer Control, called cervical cancer “low-hanging fruit” for elimination. TogetHER premiered its new “Faces of Hope” story series at the event, screening short videos that tell the stories…

More...

HPV Vaccination – Accelerating the Global Elimination of Cervical Cancer

This post originally appeared on Medium on Sept. 20, 2018. by Amb. Sally Cowal, Sr. Vice President, Global Cancer Control, American Cancer Society What if I told you we had the tools to eliminate one type of cancer around globe, and yet, were not being using them to their full potential? Cervical cancer elimination is feasible through joint implementation of two high impact “Best Buy” interventions — screening for early detection and treatment and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of adolescents, which prevents the infection that causes cervical cancer (and 5 other cancers).[1] While long term routine screening programs and increasing rates of HPV vaccination…

More...

Kenyan Champions: Creating the Conditions for Eliminating Cervical Cancer

Recently, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for the elimination of cervical cancer. This can be achieved by implementing two evidence-based, high-impact interventions for cervical cancer prevention – human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for girls and boys, which prevents the common sexually transmitted infection that causes most cervical cancers; and screening of women for the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer and precancerous lesions. An estimated 311,000 women worldwide die from cervical cancer every year. Women living in low- and middle-income countries are hit particularly hard, with about 90 percent of deaths from the…

More...
Together for Health

Rose: Cervical Cancer’s Impact on Women and their Families

Cervical cancer has a devastating impact on women and their families in the prime of their lives. Survivors are critical advocates for preventing and treating this tragic disease. Rose Cheido, a 48-year-old single mother in Kenya, discovered she had cervical cancer in July 2013, and started radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital in early 2014. “The treatment was not easy,” said Rose. “I didn’t have a job, and the family had to support me. So, it was a struggle.” Cervical cancer is a terrible disease that affects and kills women in the prime of their lives, when…

More...

Jackie: Dual Challenges of Cervical Cancer and HIV

Screening programs are a cost-effective way to save thousands of lives per year.  In Africa, where cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women, those living with HIV are approximately five times more likely than HIV-negative women to develop cervical cancer. Jackie is living with both HIV and cervical cancer. She is a mother of two who tends to a house she built on the outskirts of Nairobi. When she began experiencing excruciating abdominal pain and bleeding, she realized that her persistent weakness and exhaustion were not normal. She visited two hospitals and researched health care…

More...
Together for Health

Dr. Maranga: Fighting Cervical Cancer with both Prevention and Treatment

On the border of Africa’s biggest slum, Kibera, Dr. Orora Maranga sat in his modest women’s health practice and worried aloud about the cervical cancer burden in Kenya. He is a humble, soft-spoken man.  “I see women dying unnecessarily and most of it is because they come late for the consultation,” said Dr. Maranga. “More than 80 percent of women who come here for diagnosis are with some form of advanced cervical cancer.” Cervical cancer is preventable. Most cases are caused by a very common virus, called human papillomavirus, or HPV. Safe and effective vaccination against HPV can prevent…

More...
Together for Health

Christine: Vaccinating Against Cervical Cancer

The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer and saves lives “I didn’t even know about cervical cancer. I had never heard about it until I attended a women’s forum,” said Christine, 47, a communications professional. Christine lives in Kenya, where cervical cancer is diagnosed in nearly 4,000 women each year, and she is not alone: lack of awareness of the disease is one reason so few girls and women access the lifesaving services that can prevent cervical cancer. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, a virus so common that that 8 out of 10 men and women…

More...

Hannah: Scaling Up Screening for Cervical Cancer

We have the tools to prevent cervical cancer deaths  In a dusty alley off a main road in suburban Thika, Kenya, medical practitioner Hannah Wambui runs a clinic that provides women’s health services. With only two small examination rooms and a dispensary, Gawa Medical Center’s staff of six struggles to serve the large low-income community, primarily laborers for multinational coffee and pineapple plantations 50 kilometers from the capital, Nairobi. Hannah and her team are battling a tough epidemic: roughly five percent of Gawa’s clients show early signs of developing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease, and yet…

More...

Ending Cervical Cancer Deaths with a Human-Centered Approach

This piece first appeared in Women Deliver’s July 2018 “What’s Good” newsletter. Health experts often used to see health problems as independent of the people they affected. In recent years, however, experts have increasingly recognized that a particular health issue, like cancer, should not be addressed in a vacuum. Each patient’s relationship to cancer is shaped by other health issues she experiences, her culture, her physical environment, her family’s resources, her community’s infrastructure and social services, her country’s health policies, and a myriad of other factors. “Human-centered” health systems take those factors and patient preferences and values into account when…

More...