HSE marks Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Friday, 20 January 2023

HSE marks Cervical Cancer Prevention Week with launch of Ireland’s roadmap to eliminate cervical cancer

The HSE’s National Screening Service, National Immunisation Office (NIO) and National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) have joined forces to develop Ireland’s roadmap to reach global targets for the elimination of cervical cancer.

Launched today (Monday, 23 January 2023) to mark Cervical Cancer Prevention week, which runs from 23 to 29 January, Ireland’s roadmap shows the strides made so far towards this global goal, and signposts the future direction we will take, breaking this ambitious journey into achievable stages.

The global goals have been developed by the World Health Organisation and the set key targets that all countries are asked to strive towards are:

Ø  By 2030, 90% of girls should be fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 15 years of age

Ø  70% of women should be screened using a high-performance test by age 35, and again by age 45

Ø  90% of those identified with cervical disease should receive appropriate treatment.

Meeting these targets will put us on course to achieving our goal of eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem in Ireland. Modelling work is already under way on setting Ireland’s specific target date to reach elimination, and this will be unveiled later this year.

The key message for this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is to #GetInformed about cervical cancer elimination.

This means everyone – women, parents, young adults – getting informed about the causes of cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV); and about how HPV vaccinationcervical screening, early treatment and symptom awareness are key tools in our fight against cervical cancer.

What we want everyone to know…

  • Cervical cancer can be preventable and treatable, if detected early and managed well
  • What cervical cancer is, and how to reduce the risk of developing it
  • How cervical cancer is linked to HPV
  • How vaccination can protect you against HPV, and against cervical cancer developing
  • The role of cervical screening in reducing the incidence and impact of cervical cancer
  • The symptoms of cervical cancer and where to go if you are experiencing them.

The HSE has created a social media campaign, information leaflet and website content so everyone can #getinformed about how they can reverse the course of this terrible disease in their lives, and in the lives of others.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, TD said: This is a truly significant initiative in women’s health as it is the first time the world has committed to eliminating a cancer as a public health problem. I cannot think of a better way to mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week than to launch Ireland’s roadmap to make cervical cancer a rare disease. We are in a strong position to achieve these targets with effective HPV vaccination, cervical screening and cancer treatment services. 

“Most importantly, we are fortunate to have an alliance of passionate and committed advocates for both HPV vaccination and cervical screening, who are all united in the desire to consign cervical cancer to the history books.

Dr Caroline Mason Mohan, Director of Public Health, HSE National Screening Service and Head of the HSE’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy Group said: “In our roadmap to elimination published today, you can see that in Ireland we have already made great advancements in vaccination, screening and treatment. But we want to ensure that everyone benefits from elimination. The drive towards elimination is a drive towards health equity. As we develop our action plan this year we will focus on improving vaccination, screening and treatment uptake in groups of people who, for various reasons, do not use these options. So, to achieve elimination it takes us all to play our part.”

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe said: “I welcome the launch of Ireland's roadmap to eliminate cervical cancer, based on the principles of the new WHO roadmap for the European region. A cervical cancer-free future is within our grasp. Politicians and policy-makers have the opportunity to realise this vision by providing equitable access to the HPV vaccine, organising national screening programmes, and offering quality and affordable diagnosis and treatment. 

“We look to Ireland as a trailblazer in achieving this ambitious goal, and wish you every success in implementing your roadmap. Thank you for your crucial contribution to eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem in the European Region.”

Professor Noirin Russell, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, said: "As a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist I have seen the terrible impact of a diagnosis of cervical cancer on women and their families. I know that there are many more women who have accessed early treatment through screening that has stopped cervical cancer developing. In Ireland we’re incredibly fortunate to have the tools to achieve the goal of making cervical cancer a very rare disease.

“If you are a young person, boy or girl, take the HPV vaccination - it can stop the virus damaging your health. If you are a woman, take up the offer of regular screening tests. Finding and treating abnormal cells at the earliest possible stages is really important. Prevent it - find it - treat it. These are the three things we need to do well in Ireland to reduce the risk of cervical cancer."

Dr Lucy Jessop, Consultant in Public Health Medicine – National Immunisation Lead at the HSE’s National Immunisation Office (NIO), said: “The HSE has been delivering HPV vaccine to girls since 2010 as part of the school immunisation programme and in 2019 the programme was extended to include boys in first year of second level schools. To date over 500,000 people have taken the opportunity to get the HPV vaccine. This year through the Laura Brennan HPV vaccine catch-up programme we are offering an additional opportunity to get vaccinated for young people who didn’t take it up when the vaccine was previously offered.

“The more young people vaccinated and women screened the better we can control the spread of the infection. We will continue to work towards the WHO target of 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15 by 2030.”

How you can #getinformed:


Last updated on: 23 / 01 / 2023