Multi-Pronged Attack on Cervical Cancer Detection Seeks to Speed Detection and Treatment in Resource-Constrained Countries

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Republic of , Bolivia , Burkina Faso , Chile , China , Costa Rica , Democratic Republic of Congo , Ecuador , El Salvador , Ghana , Guinea, Republic of , India , Kenya , Latin America , Mali , Mexico , Niger , Nigeria , Peru , Republic of South Africa , Thailand , Topic: Intervention/Prevention , United States , Venezuela

[Note: This case study was originally published in 2009. Download a PDF or read the case study here.]

Cervical cancer kills approximately 270,000 women each year with nearly 85 percent of those deaths in resource-poor settings. Routine cytological screening of women, commonly known as the Pap smear, has resulted in a dramatic decline in cervical cancer deaths over the past four decades in wealthier regions. However, screening has been much less successful in developing regions. In 2000, an effort to investigate sustainable alternatives to Pap became the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP); member organizations included EngenderHealth, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Jhpiego, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and PATH, which acts as the coordinator. Recently the alliance expanded to include three additional members. The ACCP, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, worked closely with the World Health Organization, Harvard University, and governmental and nongovernmental partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America on a coordinated research agenda aimed at assessing a variety of approaches to cervical cancer screening for low-resource settings.

Lessons Learned:

  • Because of differences in stakeholders’ organizational styles and cultures, agreement on a clear, common purpose is critical to a successful collaboration and ongoing knowledge sharing may require continuous effort.
  • Inadequate funding can leave individual partners stretched too thin and thus slow results.
  • Helping local medical communities recognize the advantages of new health care technologies will enable effective rollout. 


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