KENYA — The Global Alliance for Women’s Health, a World Economic Forum initiative supported by Siemens Healthineers, has launched a Cervical and Breast Cancer Coalition on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly.

This unique coalition of public and private stakeholders has been formed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Kenya to support accelerated progress in breast and cervical cancer detection, treatment, and care.

Its overall goal is to set a new global agenda for women’s health, including more widely disseminating data that illustrates the wide-ranging societal and economic effects of women’s health.

Its overarching purpose is to establish a new global agenda for women’s health, including more broadly disseminating data demonstrating the broad societal and economic consequences of women’s health.

It will also seek to accelerate and create unprecedented cooperation and meaningful solutions among key stakeholders who are uniquely positioned to accelerate action by responding to the country’s needs and issues.

This coalition will prioritize, protects, and promotes women’s health across three focus areas: financing, science and innovation, and agenda setting.

It also seeks to unlock investment and explore different financing models to boost funding for women’s health, supports progress in women’s health innovation, and aims to ensure that innovation meets women’s diverse needs, preferences, and lifestyles.

This will provide health ministers around the world with access to an experienced network of partners and resources, as well as facilitate in-country workshops for peer-to-peer exchange and assist in identifying gaps and issues where it can support public health objectives.

Ministries of health will also have the opportunity to present best practices and breakthrough efforts for breast cancer treatment and cervical cancer elimination in their nations, which might be replicate and scaled elsewhere

Kenya, one of East Africa’s most populated countries, was chosen as a Coalition lighthouse country to provide a case study on the gravity of the situation.

Cervical cancer, which is highly detected and treatable yet remains one of the most common cancers worldwide, is Kenya’s second most common cancer among women and the top cause of cancer mortality overall.

Breast cancer on the other hand, is still the most commonly diagnosed disease in Kenya, with an annual incidence of 7,243 cases and 3,398 cancer-related deaths, according to the Global Cancer Observatory.

Breast and cervical cancer also account for more than half of the cancer burden among women in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 60-70% of women diagnosed at a late stage, and just one in every two women diagnosed with breast cancer in an African country would survive five years.

In high-income countries, the figure exceeds 90%. Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s largest burden of cervical cancer diagnoses and fatalities, with 19 of the 20 most severely affected countries being in this region.

Saving lives and addressing the significant healthcare equality gap are critical, even while effective therapies for breast and cervical cancer are available at various stages of life.

Women continue to face barriers to receiving adequate remedies, resulting in low rates of screening, vaccination, and treatment.

In her address, Nakhumicha Wafula, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, Kenya, appreciated that Kenya had been selected as a Coalition lighthouse country. She noted that the coalition is crucial to addressing women’s cancers through customized impact-focused interventions, in line with Kenya’s priorities and plans for the realization of universal healthcare coverage.

On her part, Elisabeth Staudinger, Member of the Siemens Healthineers Managing Board, emphasized that bridging the women’s health gap and promoting healthy and long lives for women everywhere depends on political will, country-led action investments, and sustainable multisectoral partnerships.

She stated that with these elements in place, strides can be made to ensure women have equal representation in all aspects of healthcare.

Meanwhile, the Alliance published the report Closing the Women’s Health Gap: A $1 Trillion Opportunity to Improve Lives and Economies in January 2024.

This report  outlined the health conditions that uniquely or disproportionately affect women and quantified the health gap today as well as the potential economic boom of closing it tomorrow.

Addressing these limitations, which impede many women’s capacity to work and support themselves and their children, has the potential to cut the amount of time women spend in poor health by about two-thirds.

This is poised improve the health outcomes and daily lives of over 3.9 billion people, and lead to a 1.7% increase in per capita GDP, with every US$1 invested in these efforts potentially unlocking US$3 in economic growth.

While this project is initially focused on Kenya, it stands to provide an example of how multisector collaboration anywhere can be harnessed to boost women’s health and save lives.

The Alliance intends to expand the coalition efforts and collaborate with other ministries and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

While the challenge of eliminating breast and cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa is significant, progress has been achievable through concerted efforts, strategic planning, and international cooperation. 

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