Northumberland among areas of England leading the way in the race to eliminating cervical cancer
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The county’s success was highlighted at an event in Morpeth Town Hall, which provided insight into the action that will be required to achieve national ambitions to eliminate cervical cancer in England by 2040.
In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) set global targets to eliminate cervical cancer – 90% of girls vaccinated, 70% of women screened, and 90% of those with cervical disease receiving treatment by 2030.
The national average in England is currently sitting at 82.2% vaccination coverage rate for HPV vaccination in girls and 67.6% coverage cervical screening in women aged 25-49.
In 2021/22, the latest full year for which data is available, Northumberland achieved 91.5% coverage for HPV vaccination in Year 9 girls and 77% cervical screening coverage in women aged 25-49.
The reasons for this data were mentioned at the event, which was hosted by MSD in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Progress is thanks to innovative and collaborative action across the system, bringing together NHS, local authority, voluntary sector and educational partners.
For example, the NHS in Northumberland has supported the #SmearForSmear campaign, led by leading charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, to tackle unnecessary myths and stigma surrounding HPV and cervical screening.
In addition, public health leaders at Northumberland County Council have praised the role of school nursing teams in raising awareness of the importance of HPV vaccination and delivering the service to as many young people as possible in the county.
Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and Allied Health professionals, and executive director for surgery and community services at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At Northumbria we’re proud to deliver HPV vaccination to young people in schools across the North East, but Northumberland’s unique success would not be possible without collaborative action with our partners to drive easier and more equitable access to HPV vaccination and cervical screening.”
The event formed part of the Race to Elimination campaign – launched and fully funded by MSD – which aims to celebrate areas that are already meeting the WHO vaccination and screening targets for cervical cancer elimination, and help other areas that need to improve.