ELIMINATION OF CERVICAL CANCER IN ZAMBIA

WELCOMING REMARKS AND KEYNOTE SPEECH BY THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA
H.E. MR EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU
AT THE UN HIGH LEVEL MEETING
ON THE ELIMINATION OF CERVICAL CANCER IN ZAMBIA
His Excellency President Roch Marc Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso
His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
His Excellency the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Gebreyesus
Other Excellencies present
Distinguished Speakers
Distinguished invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am greatly honoured to welcome you to this important meeting on cervical cancer.  We are privileged to have Heads of States,  First ladies, Heads of UN Agencies, Non Governmental Organisations, Civil Society, Private Sector, and a multitude of intellectuals from all walks of life to gather in one room and interact on a topic that is very close to our hearts. I say this, because cervical cancer affects the health of our mothers, and therefore, our nations.
I am very confident that by the end of this meeting, we will have renewed our commitments to the Cervical Cancer Elimination Challenge.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During the 71st World Health Assembly, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus made a global call to action for elimination of cervical cancer.
We applaud WHO for making this Bold Global Call to Action. This calls for development of a comprehensive strategy that will include acceleration of the scaling up of HPV Vaccination, expanding coverage of screening, early detection, prompt management, access to palliative care, and monitoring and evaluation.
We also applaud the concerted efforts by the UN system to respond  to the UN Secretary General’s call for action to tackle cervical cancer and the various partners who are already championing the cause towards cervical cancer elimination.
Every year, cervical cancer affects over half a million, and kills a quarter of a million in the same period.
Approximately 34 out of every 100 000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 23 out of every 100 000 women die from cervical cancer every year in Sub-Saharan Africa.
My country Zambia has one of the world’s highest rates of invasive cervical cancer incidence at 58 per 100,000 and mortality rate at 36 per 100,000 per year.  It is the most common cancer in the country accounting for over 30% of all new cancer cases seen annually. In addition, Zambia has a high rate of HIV, at 12.4%. The correlation of cervical cancer and HIV is well documented.
Therefore, for us elimination of cervical cancer is a priority.
Key to control of cervical cancer is a balanced approach with emphasis on health promotion, disease prevention, screening, early detection backed by a strong system of treatment, rehabilitative and palliative care. These services should be accessible by all.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Countries that bear the largest brunt of the cervical cancer burden also face logistical, financial, structural and social challenges in providing comprehensive cervical cancer control. These include bottlenecks in pathology services to facilitate cancer diagnosis which need to be expanded, surgery for early disease, limited chemoradiation treatment centres, among other challenges.

In order for us to win this fight, huge resources will be required, and the support of all stake holders cannot be overemphasised.

We appeal to the pharmaceutical industries to consider lowering further the price of HPV vaccine to increase immunisation coverage for adolescents and the cost of chemotherapy drugs.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to express gratitude to the various partners who have so far supported our country’s cervical cancer control.

I wish to reiterate my country’s commitment to this cause, and I am confident that with concerted effort, the global fight to eliminate cervical cancer shall be won.

I thank you all.

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