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Cervical Cancer Awareness Month


Frontlines of Progress: Spotlight on Regional Initiatives in Cervical Cancer Elimination

Our Member Associations in the region are dedicated to preventing, treating, and eliminating cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally. About 90% of the 342,000 deaths caused by cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries. The highest rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality are in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and South-East Asia. Regional differences in the cervical cancer burden are related to inequalities in access to vaccination, screening, and treatment services.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer. HPV is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, including skin-to-skin genital contact. Most HPV infections are self-limiting and can be cleared by the immune system. However, if the infection persists, it may lead to precancerous cervical lesions or even cervical cancer. For individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with poorly controlled HIV infection, the risk of developing cervical cancer is significantly higher.

A comprehensive report on the progress of cervical cancer elimination in the region, released by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Working Group, reveals that APEC economies account for approximately 38% of new cases and 35% of global deaths. Data from the report indicate that most APEC economies are furthest along in meeting targets for cervical cancer treatment.

The report builds on the 2021 roadmap, which sets policy targets for member economies to bolster health capacity and enable women and girls to lead healthy and productive lives. While a majority of the countries have adopted strategies for the elimination of cervical cancer, ranging from comprehensive programs to specific interventions within broader cancer strategies, there are still notable gaps in implementation. This recognises the need for multistakeholder collaborations, in line with the World Health Organization’s global strategy for cancer elimination.

Contributing towards eliminating cervical cancer is a core part of IPPF’s mandate. IPPF adopted a Cervical Cancer Strategy 2020–2024 to ensure women, girls, and affected populations can access cervical cancer information and services, strengthen health equity, address stigma, and challenge harmful social/gender norms that create barriers to accessing timely and high-quality services.

Our Member Associations in the ESEAOR region are dedicated to preventing, treating, and eliminating cervical cancer. Here, we highlight the incredible work of some of our Member Associations:


Cervical cancer ranks as the second most prevalent cancer among women in the Philippines, particularly affecting those aged 15 to 44. Current estimates from the Department of Health reveal that approximately 7,897 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the country each year, resulting in 4,052 deaths.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) has taken significant steps to address the public health issue, intensifying its efforts to expand testing and combat cervical cancer. In 2023, FPOP organised a series of free cervical cancer screenings through Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) and post-screening consultations at several FPOP Community Health Care Clinics, mobilising service providers from FPOP’s 12 chapters.

VIA is an effective and inexpensive test used to detect cervical precancerous lesions. Trained health workers apply acetic acid to the cervix and check for colour changes. Healthy tissue remains the same, while damaged tissue turns white. The results are available immediately. This affordable test makes it a valuable screening tool, particularly in resource-limited areas.

Local chapters conducted Cervical Cancer Awareness seminars in partnership with various Local Government Units (LGUs). FPOP's strong collaboration with LGUs and health departments plays a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term success of these initiatives. This partnership involves investments in reproductive health, including essential cancer screening and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services to clients in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA)

Dr Sylvia Stella G. Galiza, Municipal Health Officer based in Iloilo, emphasised, "Close collaboration between municipal health offices and FPOP is vital for ensuring early detection, ultimately saving lives and ensuring that marginalised communities are not left behind.”

Image Credit: FPOP

Cervical cancer screening


ProCare Clinic is a sexual and reproductive healthcare facility dedicated to serving poor, marginalised, socially excluded, and underserved (PMSEU) communities in Jakarta, administered by the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA). Services offered at the clinic include contraception, breast and cervical cancer screening, HIV and STI testing, obstetrics and gynaecology, and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) counselling.

Indonesia is a transit country for refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Myanmar, Iraq, and Sudan. The Greater Jakarta metropolitan area is home to the vast majority of the country's refugee population. "As a refugee, finding a safe place for healthcare is a journey filled with uncertainty. But at ProCare Clinic, when I received my cervical cancer screening, it was a moment of being seen, heard, and cared for. It gave me a sense of dignity and hope,” says Zahra, a Somali refugee in Greater Jakarta.

Refugees face multiple barriers in obtaining vaccination and other services due to a lack of documentation, information in their native language, and fear of arrest, detention, or deportation. Too often, underserved communities fall through the cracks in the healthcare system. ProCare Clinic remains committed to providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to all.
Read more about the comprehensive SRH services offered by ProCare Clinic in collaboration with local health departments.

Image Credit: Getty Images



In Malaysia, the ambitious 10-Year Action Plan towards the Elimination of Cervical Cancer (2021-2030) brings together a diverse range of stakeholders, including government bodies, healthcare professionals, and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to combat one of the top three cancers affecting Malaysian women. This strategy is central to strengthening governance and policy, enhancing service quality, and improving community access and participation, mainly through fostering intersectoral collaboration.

A significant milestone in this journey has been the implementation of the national school-based HPV immunisation program, which has played a crucial role in reducing the risk of cervical cancer among young women.

In 2022, the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia (FRHAM) directed its Cervical Cancer Prevention Services towards reaching marginalised groups. This effort focused on migrant workers, refugees, and individuals within Malaysia's B40, encompassing the bottom 40% of the income spectrum, successfully provided screening services to 6,642 clients, emphasising the critical importance of regular screenings for the early detection of cervical cancer.

Liezl Galdo, a domestic worker from the Philippines residing in Malaysia, shares her experience: “Health talks organised by FRHAM were a turning point for me. They dispelled misconceptions and taught me that cervical cancer screenings are crucial. This knowledge empowered me to take proactive steps for my health, understanding that early detection is key, even when everything seems normal.”

Since 2019, a collaborative effort involving government stakeholders, academics, policy experts, and NGOs has been underway to transition effectively to HPV DNA self-sampling for cervical screening. This innovative approach aims to make screening more accessible and less invasive, potentially increasing participation rates and early detection, which are vital in the fight against cervical cancer.

Image Credit: FRHAM

Doctor consultation


Cervical cancer remains a crucial challenge in the Pacific. Across most of the region, it is the second deadliest cancer for women after breast cancer, despite being highly preventable and treatable. To address this, the Tuvalu Family Health Association (TuFHA) reaches underserved and marginalised populations with cervical cancer screening. These screenings are conducted in safe and friendly community settings, including youth groups, sports associations, and through home visits.

In 2022, TuFHA's dedicated team engaged with 737 clients, providing comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) information and clinical services. This outreach was made possible through both mobile and static clinics, ensuring broad accessibility. Clients received essential information and clinical services related to family planning counselling, HIV and STI testing, and cervical cancer screening. A significant aspect of TuFHA's service delivery is home visits, which enabled the association to reach up to 64% of marginalised communities. This approach was instrumental in bringing critical health services directly to those who might otherwise have been unreachable.

TuFHA also extended its services to women on the outer islands in partnership with Family Planning New South Wales. Alani Simons, a client who had her first cervical cancer screening through this initiative, expressed her appreciation: “I'm immensely grateful to TuFHA for bringing these life-saving services to our community. It goes beyond improving our health; it's about empowering us with the knowledge and tools to take charge of our well-being. With the availability of cervical cancer screening here, we have the power of early detection, which can save lives.”

Image Credit: TuFHA

Group photo

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands Family Welfare Association (CIFWA), leading the fight against cervical cancer, provides screening information and services to a diverse group, including women, adolescent girls, parents of HPV vaccine-eligible children, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ communities. CIFWA's approach combines impactful media campaigns and community information sessions to raise awareness and promote early screening for cervical cancer prevention.

The second component of CIFWA's strategy is supporting clinical teams. This includes training service providers and establishing referral pathways with key stakeholders. This comprehensive approach ensures streamlined access to services and follow-up care, making the screening process more efficient.

The Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health, in partnership with CIFWA and supported by the Victorian Cytology Service (VCS) Foundation Australia, recently launched the Cervical Cancer Self-Testing Programme, commencing January 2024. This initiative, providing 500 self-test kits, targets women over 25 in the Cook Islands, offering a convenient and accessible screening option.

Dr. Yin Yin May, the outgoing director of Hospital Health Services, emphasises the importance of this initiative. “Routine screening can save lives. The objective is to detect abnormal cells in the cervix or cervical cancer at an early stage when it can be more effectively treated and cured.”

Image Credit: CIFWA

Group photo


A year and a half ago, the Minderoo Foundation's Collaborate Against Cancer initiative decided to lead this public health issue and founded the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in the Western Pacific (ECCWP) project. By doing so, Vanuatu became the first country in the Pacific to adopt a strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer.

The ECCWP project is committed to achieving 70% or higher participation in the screening of eligible women aged 30-54 years, 90% or more of screen-positive women attending follow-up care and treatment, and 90% of women who need it to receive treatment for invasive cervical cancer, across Vanuatu.  The project has seen over 6,600 women screened to the end of December 2023. 

The screening model used is consistent with the newly approved national HPV-based screening algorithm and comprises point-of-care HPV testing using self-collected vaginal specimens in a GeneXpert instrument, followed by same-day curative treatment using a new, battery-operated, portable, thermal ablation device.

The success of the ECCWP project can be attributed to the strong partnerships established with local stakeholders - including the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) and Australian organisations; the Daffodil Centre (a joint venture between Cancer Council NSW and The University of Sydney), the Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney, the Australian Centre for Cervical Cancer Prevention, and Family Planning Australia.

Read more on how the ECCWP project is a model for other countries facing similar challenges in the Pacific region.

Image Credit: VFHA



For more information, contact: 

Malarvili Meganathan, 
Regional Communications, Voice & Media Advisor,
East, Southeast Asia and Oceania Region
[email protected]

Maxine Tuwila Lesivou
Senior Communications, Voice & Media Officer (Pacific)
[email protected]