More than 600 women die every day from cervical cancer, mostly in the developing world. Health care providers in developing countries regularly see women with advanced incurable cervical cancer. At this late stage, there is little they can do to save women's lives. Even drugs designed to ease cancer pain often are unavailable. Yet cervical cancer can be readily prevented, even in women at high risk for the disease, through screening and treatment using simple technologies. When precancerous changes in cervical tissue are found and the abnormal tissue successfully treated, a woman will not develop cancer. While the majority of women in industrialized countries have access to basic cervical cancer preventive services, women in the developing world generally do not.
Work of the Alliance
Alliance projects focus on regions in which cervical cancer incidence and mortality are highest: sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Alliance-funded research and demonstration projects and underway in Bolivia, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Peru, South Africa, and Thailand, among other countries. Alliance work includes the following:
In 1999, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a five-year, $50 million grant to the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention, a group of five international organizations with a shared goal of working to prevent cervical cancer in developing countries. The Alliance works with the developing-country partners to
- assess innovative approaches to screening and treatment;
- improve service-delivery systems;
- ensure that community perspectives and needs are incorporated into program design; and
- heighten awareness of cervical cancer and effective prevention strategies.