By Mary Hearty
In an effort to improve cervical and breast cancer outcomes for women and patients in resource-constrained countries, Roche and the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics have partnered to support the implementation of sustainable programs meant to meet their needs.
In the new partnership, Roche and Jhpiego is determined to prioritize low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia, where the burden of breast and cervical cancers is highest.
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer and the cause of the most cancer-related deaths in women. Similarly, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with more than 600,000 women diagnosed with the disease in 2020.
Preventable through early human papilloma virus (HPV) screening, cervical cancer is the number one cause of female cancer-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In resource-constrained countries, mortality rates are higher as women are often diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer at a more advanced stage, when a positive outcome is less likely,” Dr. Stefan Seliger, Head Global Access & Policy at Roche Diagnostics said. “This partnership will use the capabilities and expertise from both Roche and Jhpiego to identify and enhance ways to improve women’s health by removing barriers to early detection and treatment.”
The initiative will take a multi-pronged approach to increase access to diagnostics and treatment. This will include offering technical and clinical guidance to local providers, and sharing evidence with local decision makers to support policy adoption and financing for education, screening and patient care programs.
The partnership will also support country programs to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for cervical screening, including the recommendation for an HPV DNA-based test as the preferred method4, and the WHO’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative to strengthen systems for detecting, diagnosing and treating breast cancer.
“We firmly believe that every woman should be empowered with the knowledge to understand the symptoms and risk of women’s cancers and have access to quality screening, detection, diagnosis and treatment. We are excited to partner with Roche and advance our complementary efforts towards reducing preventable deaths from women’s cancers,” Dr. Leslie Mancuso, President and CEO of Jhpiego said.
The first initiative supported by the partnership will begin in Ghana in close collaboration with the Government of Ghana and relevant stakeholders to foster an integrated, resource-stratified women’s cancer care continuum in support of the Ghana National Strategy for Cancer Control.
Cancer is one of the most significant public health challenges in Ghana, and of all cancers, breast cancer is the most pervasive, accounting for more than 32 percent of all new cancer cases in Ghanian women in 20207.
Women in Ghana face multiple challenges to accessing quality breast and cervical health care during their patient journey, including health, mental, social and financial hurdles. Once symptomatic women encounter the health system, the disease is often already in an advanced stage.
According to the Ghana National Strategy for Cancer Control 2012-2016, almost seven out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Ghana will die from their disease.
Roche and Jhpiego plan to support the Ministry of Health’s efforts through an integrated and scalable model that improves access to screening, early detection and treatment of women’s cancers.
The partnership is also exploring additional collaborations in Asia, such as in India and the Philippines, where breast and cervical cancer are the most common cancers among women.