“Accelerating Action on HPV and Cervical Cancer”

  Second Cervical Cancer Forum 2021- Concept Note

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer affecting women with an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018, representing 6.6% of all female cancers globally. Approximately 90% of deaths from cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that deaths due to cervical cancer had reached around 11,000 deaths in 2018, in the east Mediterranean region only. The high mortality rate from cervical cancer can be reduced through a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, early diagnosis, effective screening, treatment programmes and palliative care. There are currently vaccines that protect against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, hence these vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and is the cause of a range of conditions in both females and males, including precancerous lesions that may progress to become cancerous. In women, persistent infection with specific oncogenic types of HPV (most frequently types 16 and 18) may lead to precancerous lesions which, if untreated, may progress to cervical cancer.

Diagnosing cervical cancer at an early stage and providing access to effective treatment improves the likelihood of survival. Currently, in many low resource settings, the disease is often not identified until it is further advanced, or treatment is inaccessible, resulting in a higher rate of deaths from cervical cancer.

Target 3.4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is exclusively dedicated to reduce premature mortality from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by one-third by 2030. The 2011 UN Political Declaration on NCDs and 2014 UN Outcome Document on NCDs includes time- bound commitments made by Heads of State and Government at the UN General Assembly to set national targets, develop national plans to address NCDs, including cervical cancer, and implement “best buy” interventions. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges that almost all cervical cancer related deaths could be avoided if all adolescent girls received a vaccine against HPV and cervical screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions is available to all women.

On average, 12% of women worldwide had a detectable cervical HPV infection. Due to the lack of registries and databases, it is difficult to have clear estimates of HPV infection in the Arab region. However, the demographic data on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) show that there are about 1.9 million women aged 15 years and older at risk of cervical cancer. Moreover, it is estimated that about 2.3% of women in the UAE) have HPV type 16 or 18, ata given point in time, which causes approximately 72.4% of invasive cervical cancers in the country. Cervical cancer, caused by HPV, is the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the UAE, and leads to at least 56 deaths annually.

The UAE is committed to tackling HPV and cervical cancer. The journey to reduce HPV-related diseases started 10 years ago in Abu Dhabi with the initial roll-out of HPV vaccines in schools, a major step forward in the battle against this preventable disease. In 2018, the Ministry of Health and Prevention announced a country-wide rollout of the vaccine in an effort to protect more women and girls from this preventable disease. This means that theUAE are not only joining the global movement in tackling HPV, but they are also leading the MENA region in tackling this vaccine-preventable disease.

National strategies to address cervical cancer prevention and control should be a part of a comprehensiveapproach that includes prevention with HPV vaccination for young girls (and boys when appropriate), screening and treatment for women diagnosed with precancerous lesions, and treatment and palliative care for women with invasive cervical cancer. In order to have an impact on cervical cancer mortality these programmes must have universal coverage of the targeted population and financing for long-term sustainability.

Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) is one of the civil society organizations that have been paramount to the UAEs success in addressing cervical cancer. FoCP have been providing awareness and support to cancer patients for the past 21 years. Through its different community and advocacy initiatives, FoCP has been able to gain widespread recognition and awards from numerous leading institutions, locally, regionally, and internationally for helping cancer patients and creating awareness about the disease. FoCP partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to develop programmatic guidance to the Ministry of Health and partner agencies for the development and revision of their cervical cancer prevention and control programmes.

On the 31st of January 2019, marking the Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and to support the national HPVresponse, FoCP hosted the “Turning the Tide on HPV and Cervical Cancer” Forum in the Emirate of Sharjah- UAE.The forum showcased best practices emerging from the UAE and announced the “Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer” that was formulated in partnership with the UNFPA and the MENA Coalition for HPV Elimination. The declaration addresses the actions and the collaborations needed in order to tackle cervical cancer and save countless lives across the region. The declaration highlighted the following three main objectives to be achieved:

  • Advocate for regional and national cervical cancer strategies which align with global initiatives;
  • Establish cooperative capacity building efforts to expand countries’ and organizations’ cervical cancer control activities; and
  • Work with partners to develop and implement innovative technologies for screening and pricing policies to stimulate increased vaccination and screening coverage. Gaining and exchanging experience from other best practices at global

Building on that first forum in Sharjah and supporting the global efforts to increase the awareness on Cervical cancer, FoCP is partnering with UNFPA to host the second Cervical Cancer Forum in 2021 “Accelerating Action on HPV and Cervical Cancer”. The forum will be convened in partnership with local, regional, and international health authorities and centers of medical knowledge such as, Ministry of Health & Prevention- UAE, Health Promotion Research Group- UAE, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and WHO (NCD EMRO).Contributors to the Conference will include pioneering actors in this area including: Gavi Alliance, Global Health Institutes and University Hospitals, pioneer researchers, among others.

The forum will review the “Sharjah Declaration on Cervical Cancer” 2019 efforts and aims to:

  1. Bring together global stakeholders, including academia, community leaders, scientists, and policy makers to promote and enhance programmatic collaborations to more effectively address regional and national responses toHPV and cervical cancer in the Arab region since the previous forum.
  1. Discuss the establishment of sustainable and equitable cervical cancer and HPV eradication programmes; including under conditions of health emergencies e.g. COVID-19.

The expected outcome of this forum is to propose a set of recommendations and a call for action for addressing cervical cancer that integrates the pillars of prevention, treatment, palliative care and social aspects globally and specifically in the Arab region.

Forum Logistics

The 2nd Cervical Cancer Forum will be a two-day event organized on 27-28 January 2021 virtually. The online forum platform will allow active interaction among panelists, speakers, and audience members. This modality wasconcluded as the best option to convene the forum in order to prioritize the safety of all forum participants within the COVID-19 pandemic situation, while at the same time ensuring the efficiency of the forum discussions andoutcomes.

For any further information and questions, contact Ms. Haya Merai on [email protected] or +97150 776 0040

Download full Agenda
Day 1 – Opening and welcome
01:00 – 01:05 PM


Opening remarks – Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah Founder and Royal Patron of FoCP, International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC – Video
01:05 – 01:10 PM Opening remarks – Video ED/DED UNFPA
01:10 – 01:20 PM


Welcoming remarks – H.E. Sawsan Al-Fahoum Jafar, Chairperson and President of the Board of Directors, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) – UAE

Welcoming remarks – Dr. Luay Shabaneh, Regional Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – Arab States Regional Office (ASRO) – video.

Welcoming remarks  – RC – UAE

01:20 – 01:25 PM Keynote – Princess Dina Mired, Immediate Past President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) – video
01:25 – 01:30 PM Keynote – Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency – Austria – video
01:30 – 01:35 PM Introductory Video: Global, Regional and National Cervical Cancer Situation
Theme 1: 2021 where are we with Cervical Cancer elimination?
01:35 – 01:50 PM


Keynote – UNFPA: Global Perspective on Cervical Cancer

Petra Tenhoope-Bender, Technical Advisor, Sexual and Reproductive Health Branch, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA- HQ)

01:50 – 02:05 PM


Keynote – WHO: Regional Perspective on eliminating Cervical cancer in the Arab Region

Dr. Nasim Pourghazian, Technical Officer UHC and Non-communicable Diseases, World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO)

02:05 – 02:45 PM


Panel 1 (D1/T1/P1) – Better healthcare policies for cervical cancer elimination

Panelist 1 – Dr Julie Torode – Deputy CEO and Director of Advocacy and Networks, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) – Switzerland

Panelist 2 – Professor Colm O’Mahony – Consultant physician, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV – United Kingdom

Panelist 3 – Dr Muna Al Kuwari – Director of Specialized Care Management and Executive Vice President of the team, Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) – UAE

Moderator – Dr. Ibtihal Fadhil – Chair, Eastern Mediterranean NCD Alliance – Bahrain

02:45 – 03:25 PM


Panel 2 (D1/T1/P2) – Reflections on the Sharjah Declaration 3×3 and the way forward

Panelist 1 – Dr.Sawsan Al Madhi – Director General, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) – UAE

Panelist 2 – Dr. Shible Sahbani – Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor, United Nations Population (UNFPA) – Arab States Regional Office (ASRO)

Panelist 3 – Dr. Kamal Fahmy – Medical officer, Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Immunization, World Health Organization (WHO) – Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO).

Moderator – Dr. Ziad Mhiersi, Director of Global Health Strategies – USA

03:25 – 04:05 PM Virtual coffee break
Theme 2: Continuum of care in Cervical Cancer
04:05 – 04:25 PM


Keynote – UAE experience in addressing cervical cancer through a comprehensive approach

H.E Abdulrahman Al Oweis, Minister of Health and Prevention (MoHAP)- UAE (Video)

04:25 – 05:15 PM


Panel 1 (D1/T2/P1) – How primary health care is providing screening, prevention, and access to HPV vaccinations under the current COVID pandemic.

Panelist 1 – Dr. Thuraia Al Rawahi – Senior Consultant Gynecological Oncologist – Royal Hospital in Oman

Panelist 2 – Dr. Hussain Al Rand – Assistant Undersecretary of Health Centers and Clinics Sector, Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) – UAE

Panelist 3 – Mr. Iliaz Asruf – Senior Policy Officer Infectious disease control at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports – Kingdom of the Netherlands

Panelist 4 – Dr. Partha Basu – Head, Screening (SCR) Group, Early Detection and Prevention Section (EDP) – International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO)

Moderator – Dr Solaiman Abuserwil – Head of the national vaccines’ committee at the Ministry of Health – Libya

05:15 – 05:55 PM


Panel 2 (D1/T2/P2)– How to ensure equity and access in cervical cancer care from continuum including, chemotherapy to palliative care for better outcome

Panelist 1 – Dr. Lamia Safieldeen – Senior Officer Cancer Control, Department of Health – UAE

Panelist 2 – Prof. Mustapha Benhassou – Professor of Gynecology and Obstetric Care at the University of Mohammed IV for cancer treatment – Morocco

Panelist 3 – Dr. Lisa Stevens – Director, Division of

Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), IAEA – Austria

Moderator – Dr. Khaled Al Saleh – General Secretary, Federation of Gulf Cancer Control –Kuwait

05:55 – 06:10 PM Day 1 – Closing Remarks


Day 2 – Welcome back session
01:00 – 01:10 PM Recap of Day 1: FOCP and UNFPA Dialogue

Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi – Director General, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) – UAE

Dr. Shible Sahbani – Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor, United Nations Population (UNFPA) – Arab States Regional Office (ASRO)

Theme 3: Social Advocacy in Cervical Cancer
01:10 – 01:30 PM


Keynote – Faith, religion and culture as a driver in cervical cancer elimination

Prof. Gamal Srour – Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Director for the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research (IICPSR), Al Azhar University – Egypt

01:30 – 02:15 PM


Panel 1 (D2/T3/P1) – Voices of patients focused organizations’ success stories

Panelist 1 – Dr. Heather White – Executive Director, Together for Health – USA

Panelist 2 – Mrs. Hanaa Serry – Member of the Board of Directors, Baheya – Egypt

Panelist 3 – Dr. Khaled Al Saleh – General Secretary, Federation of Gulf Cancer Control -Kuwait

Panelist 4 – Cecilia Llave – Chair CECAP, Cervical Cancer Prevention Network – Philippines

Moderator – Haya Merai – Program Manager, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) – UAE

02:15 – 02:55 PM


Panel 2 (D2/T3/P2) – How can media support proper communication to create impactful messaging?

Panelist 1 – Dr. Ibrahim Al Kardani – Freelance Health and Media expert. Former World Health Organization Regional Spokesperson

Panelist 2 – Tamika Felder – Survivor and Advocate – USA

Panelist 3 – Kate Sanger – Head of Policy and Communications, Jo Cervical Cancer Trust – United Kingdom

Moderator – Samir Al- Darabi – Regional Communication Advisor, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – Arab States Regional Office (ASRO)

02:55 – 03:00 PM Video: Faces of hope – Together for Health
03:00 – 03:30 PM Virtual coffee break
Theme 4: Advances and Innovation role in the ecosystem of Cervical Cancer elimination
03:30 – 03:45 PM Keynote – Role of technology and knowledge management

Dr.Mona Saraiya – Medical Officer and Team leader, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, CDC – USA

03:45 – 04:25 PM










Panel 3 (D2/T3/P3) – Role of Technology, Innovation and Partnerships

Panelist 1 – Dr. Hayat Sindi – Chief Advisor to the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Science, Technology and Innovation, Jeddah – KSA

Panelist 2 – Dr. Al-Sumait – DG DirectAid – Kuwait

Panelist 3 – Anja Nitzsche – Head of Resource Mobilization and Strategic Partnerships at the Programme of Action for Cancer therapy, IAEA – Austria

Moderator – Anja Nitzsche – Head of Resource Mobilization and Strategic Partnerships at the Programme of Action for Cancer therapy, IAEA – Austria

04:25 – 04:30 PM International Atomic Energy Agency Cervical Cancer reduction efforts – Video
Closing session
04:30 – 05:00 PM Recap of day 2: Closing remarks and forum announcements

Dr.Sawsan Al Madhi – Director General, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) – UAE

Dr. Shible Sahbani – Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor, United Nations Population (UNFPA) – Arab States Regional Office (ASRO)