An EPICC affair: Australian leadership in cervical cancer recognised with a major Australian Government grant

Australia is stepping up its regional leadership in the elimination of cervical cancer, with the announcement today of a $12.5 million Australian Government grant to a consortium of leading Australian and international nongovernment health organisations.

The Elimination Partnership in the Indo-Pacific for Cervical Cancer (EPICC) is the largest ever initiative of its kind, leveraging Australian, international and in-country partner expertise to promote the World Health Organization’s strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer.

The grant announcement coincides with the launch today of Australia’s national strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer, which puts Australia at the vanguard of cervical cancer elimination, with the Australian Government-funded EPICC consortium set up to accelerate parallel progress in the region.

Professor Marion Saville, of the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, said that while Australia was on track to be the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer, it remained a leading cause of cancer death in women in many neighbouring countries where availability of screening, vaccination and access to treatment was limited and varied.

“Cervical cancer leads to huge global inequities in health outcomes, with countries like Australia on the cusp of reducing it to the status of a rare disease at the same time as it causes a terrible burden for women, families and entire communities on our doorstep,” Professor Saville said.

Professor Saville outlined the important practical role that Australian organisations will play in this initiative. “Our centre houses the Australian HPV reference laboratory, and our significant technical laboratory expertise will allow us to provide support to strengthen laboratory services in each country.”

“We’ll also ensure that we don’t lose track of women who get screened through this initiative, by utilising our globally-recognised cancer screening registry platform: canSCREEN. This registry program can be integrated with laboratory systems and will capture screening records in real-time, informing clinical decisions at patient level, ensuring everyone gets the follow-up that they need and supporting program monitoring and evaluation”.

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