The seventh edition of the International Stop Cervical Cancer in Africa Conference, jointly organised by the Forum of African First Ladies Against Breast & Cervical Cancer and the Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation, was hold in Maputo, Mozambique on 21-23 July, 2013. This year's conference was headed by the First Lady of Mozambique, Maria Da Luz Dai Guebuza. The first ladies of several African countries joined forces with researchers, health professionals, representatives from multilateral organisations, politicians and activists at the conference to share knowledge, forge alliances and promote strategies to improve the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer.
ISGlobal was represented at the conference by its president, H.R.H. The Infanta Cristina de Borbón, and Clara Menéndez, director of the institute's Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Initiative. Two researchers from the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) in Mozambique, Khatia Munguambe and Esperança Sevene, presented their work on the acceptability of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine among Mozambican girls (10 years old) and the results of previous studies conducted in this field.
2013 has been a turning point in the fight against cervical cancer in Africa, as eight countries, including Mozambique, received support from the GAVI Allance to introduce the HPV vaccine, which offers protection to girls aged 9 to 13. The vaccine can prevent 70% of cervical cancer cases in adulthood.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, with an annual incidence of almost 500,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths. About 85% of the women who die from cervical cancer live in developing countries. Cervical cancer is now preventable thanks to the HPV vaccine, yet inadequate resources and infrastructure mean that millions of African women are denied access to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.