Going for Gold: new strategy and funding set to make preventable cervical cancer a disease of the past

This cervical cancer awareness week, the Australian Government has launched a landmark strategy set to make preventable cervical cancer a disease of the past, setting Australia on the path to becoming the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern, as early as 2035.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable through vaccination and screening, as well as being highly treatable in the early stages of disease. However, it is almost entirely a disease of inequity, with some of Australia’s diverse communities experiencing worse outcomes, often attributable to barriers in accessing these services.

The new strategy identifies several priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people who are LGBTQ+ and people who are intersex, people with disability and people living in rural and remote areas.

The Australian Government has committed to a $48.2M, four-year investment to implement many of the recommendations set out in the strategy. Several of these recommendations require significant workforce reform, to expand who can offer services such as screening and colposcopy, such as nurses and GPs working in rural and remote areas.

Professor Marion Saville, who oversaw the strategy development process, said it was exciting to see this investment into workforce reform to expand the scope of practice for specially trained nurses.

“Many patients are experiencing extraordinarily long wait times for services such as colposcopy. Others are simply unable to access screening services, due to a lack of service providers who meet their needs.”

“Enabling our highly skilled nurses to practice independently by performing and ordering cervical screening tests and being trained in colposcopy will be a game changer for the people who need access to these services.”

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