Greg Hunt lauds Australia's global health leadership

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Health minister Greg Hunt says Australia has led a successful push for worldwide action to tackle two key global health issues – cervical cancer and eye health.

He said the government welcomes the recent adoption of two Australian-led resolutions by member states of the World Health Organization (WHO).

They are Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control - Accelerating the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem and Integrated People-Centred Eye Care, including Preventable Vision Impairment and Blindness.

Mr Hunt said Australia was successful in adding Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control to the World Health Assembly agenda in 2018 and led the development of the resolution. The resolution garnered co-sponsorship from a number of countries.

"We now stand ready to work with the international community to take these commitments forward," he said.

The resolution on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control has been recognised by the President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, as “a generational commitment to eliminate a cancer for the first time”.

“Civil society applauds this achievement, which will bring true momentum to providing girls and women the health care they need to thrive,” she said.

“UICC salutes Australia’s global leadership in championing this cause, inspiring countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer and greatest needs to also commit to elimination.”

"Australia’s world leading cervical screening and HPV immunisation programs are highly effective at preventing and detecting cervical cancer," said Mr Hunt. "Australia remains on track to eliminate it in this country by 2035."

About 800 to 900 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, with more than 200 deaths. Since the start of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991, there has been a 50 per cent reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality in Australia.

Mr Hunt said the resolution on Integrated People-Centred Eye Care, co-led by Australia and Indonesia, is an important step in ensuring eye health is integrated as part of universal health coverage worldwide.

"It supports implementation of effective strategies to address eye care needs, global research, and targets for eye health by 2030," he said.