Celebrating Local Success Towards Cervical Cancer Elimination

November 2023

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MSD has launched the Race to Elimination campaign to showcase local areas on the road to cervical cancer elimination, and inspire country-wide action of the NHS England elimination pledge.

99.8% of cervical cancer cases are entirely preventable,[1] providing a unique opportunity – through Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical screening – to eliminate the impact of this disease on women, their families and society. This opportunity is recognised at the highest level: in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) set global targets to work towards the elimination of cervical cancer – 90% of girls vaccinated, 70% of women screened, and 90% of those with cervical disease receiving treatment by 2030 [2]

On 15 November 2023, the UK joined the company of the WHO and other countries with the announcement of NHS England’s commitment to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040[3] . This is truly a significant step in the UK’s Race to Elimination.

Whilst this is a significant step, variation persists between local areas in cervical screening and HPV vaccination coverage rates.[4][5]The consequence of this is an estimated 850 cervical cancer deaths every year – more than two women every day – but with an effective strategy, the UK can close the gap with world leaders.

At MSD, we believe that – while learning from abroad is key – we should also be looking closer to home for inspiration. Local areas across the country are successfully increasing HPV vaccination coverage and cervical screening, while tackling the inequalities in access experienced by some communities. In this context, these pockets of good practice are meeting, or even exceeding, the WHO’s thresholds. In doing so, they are proof that hitting NHS England’s ambition to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040, is fully achievable.

The Race to Elimination campaign therefore aims to celebrate success in these trailblazing areas across the UK – seeking to understand not only the factors behind local progress, but the lessons that can be learned for the whole country. Ultimately, we want to inspire momentum towards the elimination of cervical cancer nationwide, making cervical cancer elimination a reality for women in every corner of the country.

The campaign’s journey will be taking us initially to the West Midlands, Northumberland, Greater Manchester, the Thames Valley, and Havering in London. Who will win the Race to Elimination?

[1] Cancer Research UK, Cervical cancer statistics. Last accessed August 2023.

[2] The World Health Organization, Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem, November 2020. Last accessed August 2023.

[3] NHS England. Last Accessed November 2023

[4] UK Health Security Agency, Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage estimates in adolescents in England: academic year 2021 to 2022, December 2022. Last accessed August 2023.

[5] NHS Digital, Cervical Screening Programme, England – 2021-2022, November 2022. Last accessed August 2023.

GB-NON-08533 | November 2023