Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Cervical cancer prevention and the Millennium Development Goals

Scott Wittet, Vivien Tsu

The advent of new technologies such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and HPV DNA tests – along with new insights into the appropriate use of low-resource technologies such as visual inspection of the cervix and treatment of cervical lesions with cryotherapy – have increased optimism about the potential for effective disease control in low-resource settings. Nevertheless, it is also important to ask ourselves how new health initiatives contribute, or fail to contribute, to major global undertakings such as achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

While reproductive health in general, and cervical cancer prevention in particular, are not explicitly mentioned among the MDGs, they are implied; and it is certain that women cannot contribute to sustainable development without good health. The question is, in what ways do scaled-up cervical cancer prevention activities, including introduction of the new HPV vaccines and increased access to precancer screening and treatment, contribute to attainment of the MDGs?