A global blueprint for cervical cancer elimination: learnings from Sweden

September 20, 2023


A global blueprint for cervical cancer elimination: learnings from Sweden

September 20, 2023

Emily Tiemann


Emily is a Manager with Economist Impact’s Health Policy Team. She works with global clients, developing and delivering evidence-based health policy projects across a wide range of priority areas. Prior to joining the Economist Group, Emily worked in private healthcare in Canada followed by health policy and regulation in the UK, managing strategic programs and policy reviews, and working closely with the Department of Health. 

Emily holds a Master’s degree in Women’s Health from University College London and a degree in Biology from McGill University.

A global blueprint for cervical cancer elimination: learnings from Sweden

Cervical cancer is a significant global health challenge, affecting over 604,127 women and leading to 342,000 preventable deaths worldwide in 2020. In Europe alone in 2020, there were 30,447 new cases and 13,437 deaths as a result of cervical cancer. Unless contained, and eventually eliminated, the impact of cervical cancer has the potential to destabilise economies and societies, particularly those of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where inadequate resourcing remains a key public health challenge that leads to a steady rise in the number of new cases and deaths from cervical cancer. Without swift and substantive action, the global cost of cervical cancer is expected to increase to US$682bn between 2020 and 2050; therefore, the condition does not simply present a public health problem but a sizeable economic one.

A global blueprint for cervical cancer elimination: learnings from Sweden is an Economist Impact report, supported by MSD. It examines the extent to which countries are meeting, and in some instances exceeding, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 90-70-90 goals for cervical cancer elimination within this century. The report describes the exemplary performance of Sweden, which could come close to eliminating cervical cancer before 2030. It also looks at other select countries, across a range of income levels, population health needs and budget constraints, that have prioritised cervical cancer as a key health priority and are now reaping the benefits of their commitment.

Through the synthesis of these success stories and insights from an in-depth literature review and interviews with a range of global and national-level experts in the field, we conclude with a 10-point plan as a baseline of recommendations for other countries to consider in their pursuit of eliminating cervical cancer:

  1. Build political commitment and momentum
  2. Ensure multi-stakeholder collaboration
  3. Prioritise HPV within national cancer policies and vaccination schedules
  4. Generate data through the development of robust registries
  5. Include screening and vaccination under universal health coverage
  6. Understand the target population and design the roll-out of organised and accessible immunisation programmes
  7. Ensure equitable vaccination and screening access to the entire population
  8. Address the barriers of vaccination hesitancy and misinformation
  9. Ensure equitable access to high-quality treatment and optimal care pathways
  10. Learn lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic to build system resilience and scale screening and vaccination coverage

Executive summary (English):

Full report (English):

Executive summary (Swedish)

Full report (Swedish)

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