Ireland is on target to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD made the announcement on Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action, 17 November 2023.
Ireland publicly committed to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global initiative to eliminate cervical cancer in January 2023 – one of the first countries in the world to do so.
What does elimination mean?
The WHO defines elimination of cervical cancer as fewer than 4 cases per 100,000 women. This would make cervical cancer rare. Ireland’s incidence rate is currently 10.4 per 100,000. Elimination of cervical cancer does not mean zero cases of cervical cancer, but it will bring us to a point where there are so few cases that it is no longer a public health problem. Ireland can achieve this by 2040, due to the success of the HPV vaccination and cervical screening programmes.
What are the targets?
Known as the 90-70-90 targets, the WHO is asking every country to put measures in place to reach these by 2030, to put the world on course to eliminate cervical cancer:
- 90% of girls vaccinated against HPV by age 15
- 70% of women screened by age 35 and again by age 45
- 90% of people identified with cervical disease treated
How do we get there?
A new roadmap has been published charting Ireland’s next steps to elimination. HPV is the cause of most cervical cancers and new research published by the National Screening Service provides early evidence of the positive protective effect of HPV vaccination on cervical disease in Ireland. Our goal to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 can be achieved by making sure all women and people with a cervix have access to three important tools:
- Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes most cervical cancers
- Cervical screening and treatment of precancers to find HPV infections and signs of changes in the cervix, and treat any abnormalities that are found before cancer can develop
- Timely cervical cancer treatment and access to appropriate care and support services, including palliative care.
National Action Plan
Be part of eliminating cervical cancer in Ireland. The Cervical Cancer Elimination Partnership will develop an action plan to ensure Ireland remains on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040. This will start with a national public consultation in 2024.
We’re calling on everyone to get involved in this public consultation to plan and support our work so that we can reach more people to make informed choices about HPV vaccination, screening and treatment. We invite you to express your interest in developing Ireland’s Cervical Cancer Elimination action plan. Email: email@example.com
Together Towards Elimination
Everyone can play a part in the drive towards elimination and thousands of people already are.
- Parents and children of vaccination age can get informed about the HPV vaccine and its role in preventing cervical cancer at hpv.ie
- Young women aged 24 and younger and young men aged 21 and younger who did not previously receive the HPV vaccination at school have an opportunity to get vaccinated for free through Laura Brennan HPV vaccine catch-up programme.
- Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 65 are eligible for free HPV cervical screening. Choose screening from the age of 25. Check the register at CervicalCheck.ie, check the facts and book your screening test when it is due.
- Take up treatment if advised. If cervical cancer is identified early, treatment can be less extensive and is much more likely to be successful.
Follow the hashtag #TogetherTowardsElimination on social media platforms and share widely.
Cervical Cancer Elimination Partnership
The HSE’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy Group is comprised of the Department of Health, HSE’s National Screening Service, National Immunisation Office, and National Cancer Control Programme, National Women and Infants Health Programme, National Cancer Registry of Ireland, patient advocates, Marie Keating Foundation and Irish Cancer Society.
Ireland’s Cervical Cancer Elimination campaign is supported by the Women’s Health Fund. This is a process of investment under the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-2023 which commits to taking action to improve the health outcomes for women and girls across the country. It strives to achieve new approaches to women’s health through innovation. Ireland’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy is fully aligned to this ambition.
- Together towards elimination: Ireland on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040
- Shifting gears on the road to cervical cancer elimination as Ireland’s target date set to be announced
- Honouring the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, the ‘Mother of Modern Medicine’: research conducted with Henrietta’s cells proved that various strains of HPV caused most cervical cancers. This discovery led to the development of the HPV vaccine - a vital part of the global initiative to eliminate cervical cancer.
- Ireland was one of the first countries to introduce HPV vaccinations through the national immunisation programme in 2010 and was an early adopter of HPV cervical screening. A new study published by the National Screening Services provides early evidence of the impact of HPV vaccination on cervical disease in Ireland: Combination of cervical screening and HPV vaccination steers Ireland on the road to Cervical Cancer Elimination
- The National Cancer Registry Ireland published a report in 2022 showing a steep decline in cervical cancer incidence in Ireland since the introduction of the CervicalCheck programme in 2008 – an average 2.8% reduction annually between 2009 and 2019. The report shows that cancers detected via screening were found at a substantially earlier stage, improving survival rates with timely access to treatment.
- WHO hails new report a valuable global resource to support cervical cancer elimination
- Professor Karen Canfell, The Daffodil Centre, Australia (video) reveals the results of a study to predict Ireland’s target date for cervical cancer elimination
- Let’s eliminate cervical cancer – The Laura Brennan Story (video)
- WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative: from call to action to global movement
- WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action 2023