Members of the Executive Board,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro[*] and Albania[*], the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The EU is happy to cosponsor this resolution that endorses the Global Strategy to Accelerate Cervical Cancer Elimination and constitutes a major step forward towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and the SDG’s.
By fully accepting and supporting the strategy, we will effectively respond to one of the most serious global public health concerns. Indeed, this strategy will enable us to avert the vast majority of annual new cases and to reduce the numbers of women dying of cervical cancer each year, most of them in low- and middle-income countries.
Implementing the resolution will also enable us to considerably reduce one of the biggest health inequalities, based on factors such as gender, geography, level of income and comorbidity with HIV/AIDS.
Member States and WHO need to follow a dual strategy: on the one hand, we need to engage strongly with the most affected countries, while on the other hand, we have to align our efforts to eliminate cervical cancer much closer with our fight against HIV/AIDS.
The level of our success will depend on our willingness to adopt and maintain a fully integrated, comprehensive approach, including through vaccination, testing and screening, treatment and care.
Primary health care is a key point in addressing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer programmes should therefore be an integrated and basic part of every health system, providing people-centred services and care, meeting the needs of women across their life course.
In order to achieve a sustainable response, we also have to involve, educate and empower men and boys. They have a role to play and should actively contribute to the prevention of cervical cancer, and to supporting the screening, treatment and care efforts that are indispensable for winning this struggle.
The proposed strategy will allow us to address a major global health inequality in a comprehensive and constructive manner, taking into account the relevant determinants and drivers.
The EU urges WHO and its Member States to embrace this opportunity with determination, to eliminate cervical cancer. If we all persevere in our efforts to implement the strategy, we will come closer to our vision of a cervical cancer free world.
This vision is in line with the Union’s development policy, captured by the 2017 EU-consensus on development which aligns itself with the 2030-agenda for sustainable development, I quote: “The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in this context. Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services” unquote.
Thank you Chair,
[*] Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.