About the strategy

Why do we need an elimination strategy for cervical cancer?

The global commitment to eliminating cervical cancer

On 17 November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem. Australia—which has a history of global leadership in cervical cancer control programs, technology and research—led the way by sponsoring a successful resolution at the 73rd World Health Assembly to adopt the strategy.

The adoption of the global strategy means that for the first time ever, the world has committed to eliminate a cancer as a public health problem. This goal will be achieved when the incidence rate of cervical cancer falls to fewer than 4 per 100,000 women and people with a cervix in every country.

Under the WHO global strategy, countries are striving to achieve three targets by 2030:

90%

of girls to be fully vaccinated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age

70%

of women to be screened by 35 and again by 45 years of age using a high precision test i.e., an HPV PCR-based test    

90%

of women identified with cervical disease to receive treatment for precancerous lesions or invasive cancer.    

How is Australia tracking?

Incidence:

  • Australia: 6.3 new cases per 100,000 (2011-2015)
  • WHO target: <4 new cases per 100,000

Vaccination

  • Australia: Completed course coverage was 78.2% by 15 years in 2019 (79.6% in females and 76.8% in males). It was lower amongst Indigenous adolescents (68.5% overall, 71.6% in females and 65.4% in males)
  • WHO target: 90% of girls to be fully vaccinated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age   

Screening:

  • Australia: 54.9% of women aged 35 had been screened at least once with an HPV test by end 2019. HPV screening has not been available long enough for program participants to have had two high performance tests by age 45.
  • WHO target: 70% of women to be screened by 35 and again by 45 years of age using a high precision test i.e., an HPV PCR-based test   

Treatment:

  • Australia: No national data available. Queensland data (2011-2014) show 94% of women with cervical cancer in metropolitan/ regional areas were treated and 92% in rural/remote areas.
  • 90% of women identified with cervical disease to receive treatment for precancerous lesions or invasive cancer.   

Source: NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control. 2021 Cervical Cancer Elimination Progress Report: Australia’s progress towards the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. Published online 26/03/2021, Melbourne, Australia, at https://www.cervicalcancercontrol.org.au

Health equity is central to achieving elimination in Australia

Whilst Australia is tracking very well against the WHO targets, we know that certain communities face barriers to accessing cervical cancer prevention programs and treatment. For example, community groups that experience barriers to participating in cervical screening include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • LGBTIQ+ communities
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People with disabilities
  • Some culturally and linguistically diverse communities

We will seek input from priority communities and a wide range of health sector stakeholders in developing the Strategy. We want to hear from you about what needs to be done to ensure cervical cancer prevention programs and treatment services can reach and meet the different needs of people and communities in an equitable way.

Find out more about how we will consult with the health sector and community members.

Project Governance

The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. A Departmental Steering Committee is providing strategic advice and oversight from health policy areas that are important to the success of the Strategy.

An expert advisory group and four sub-advisory groups are being established with representation from the health sector and community members right across Australia, including priority community groups. These groups will provide strategic guidance and deep expertise to help develop the Strategy.

The Expert Advisory Group to the Elimination Response

Image of Prof Karen Canfell, Chair of the EAGER

“We can achieve rates of cervical cancer in Australia that are so low that it can be considered to be eliminated by 2035. However, we need to address current inequities in participation and access to cervical cancer prevention and treatment services, to ensure elimination is achieved for all women and people with a cervix across the diverse communities we have in Australia. I’m very proud to chair the Expert Advisory Group for the Elimination Response (EAGER). Its members are deeply knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and passionately committed to bringing the voices of priority communities to the centre of this Strategy.”

Professor Karen Canfell, Director, The Daffodil Centre
Chair of the Expert Advisory Group to the Elimination Response

Chair:

  • Prof Karen Canfell, Director, The Daffodil Centre (a joint venture of Cancer Council NSW and The University of Sydney)

Members:

  • Nicky Bath, CEO, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia
  • Tanya Buchanan, CEO, Cancer Council Australia
  • Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Dr Paul Cohen, Gynaecologist, Western Australian Gynaecological Cancer Service, King Edward Memorial Hospital
  • Dr Joyce Jiang, Health Promotion Manager, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
  • Professor Dorothy Keefe PSM MD, CEO, Cancer Australia
  • Professor Kristine Macartney, Director, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance
  • Tricia Malowney OAM, Chief Accessibility Advocate, Department of Transport
  • David Meredyth, A/g Assistant Secretary, Cancer Screening and Policy Branch, Australian Government Department of Health

Communiques will be shared following each EAGER meeting on the Project Updates page.

Sub-Advisory Groups

Four Sub-Advisory Groups have been established to provide targeted and expert advice across the three pillars of elimination and health equity. Members comprise of health experts, government representatives, and consumer representatives:

  • Health Equity Sub-Advisory Group
  • Vaccination Sub-Advisory Group
  • Screening Sub-Advisory Group
  • Treatment Sub-Advisory Group

National Elimination Project Team

  • Prof Marion Saville AM, ACPCC Project Sponsor & Chair of Project Working Group 
  • Prof Julia Brotherton, Public Health Physician and Epidemiologist, ACPCC  
  • Assoc Prof Lisa Whop, Consultant, Australian National University 
  • Assoc Prof Megan Smith, Consultant, Daffodil Centre (a joint venture of Cancer Council NSW and The University of Sydney)
  • Dr Julie Torode, Consultant and co-chair of the WHO Global Guideline Group for Cervical Cancer
  • Kate Wilkinson, Project Manager, ACPCC
  • Kim Lee, Project Co-Lead, ACPCC  
  • Lena Elkman, Project Co-Lead, ACPCC

You can contact the National Elimination Project Team directly via elimination@acpcc.org.au.