The Hindu Op-ed: A bold step towards a cervical cancer-free future

PYQ Relevance:

‘Mission Indradhanush’ launched by the Government of India pertains to (UPSC CSE 2016)
a)  Immunization of children and pregnant women
b)  Construction of smart cities across the country
c)   India’s own search for the Earth-like planets in outer space
d)  New Educational Policy

1. What are the research and developmental achievements in applied biotechnology? How will these achievements help to uplift the poorer sections of the society? (UPSC CSE 2021)

2. Women empowerment in India needs gender budgeting. What are requirements and status of gender budgeting in the Indian context? (UPSC CSE 2016)

3. In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (UPSC CSE 2020)


Mains: Social Issues and Justice; Health issues; Women empowerment;

Prelims: Interim Union Budget 2024-25;

Mentor comments: Cervical cancer is a major cause of cancer mortality in women and more than a quarter of its global burden is contributed by developing countries. In India, in spite of alarmingly high figures, there is no nationwide government-sponsored screening program. Wide-scale implementation and awareness is necessary in India. Hence, on an account of International Women’s Day we need to rethink our Primary Health Policies at grass root levels.

Let’s learn. 

Why in the News?

On account of International Women’s Day (8th March), India’s interim Union Budget 2024-25 is reviewed as a beacon of hope, particularly in the realm of women’s health.

  • The encouragement and support for the vaccination of girls (from 9 to 14 years) against cervical cancer stands out as a pivotal move towards safeguarding women’s well-being.

What does the Data say?

According to the NCBI report, cervical cancer in India contributes to approximately 6–29% of all cancers in women. The age-adjusted incidence rate of cervical cancer varies widely among registries; highest is 23.07/100,000 in Mizoram state and the lowest is 4.91/100,000 in Dibrugarh district.


  • Firstly, India’s Interim Union Budget 2024-25 has taken a significant step towards a cervical cancer-free future by prioritizing women’s health, particularly through the encouragement of HPV vaccination for girls aged 9 to 14 years.
  • Secondly, the World Health Organization is also aiming for high vaccination coverage, increased screening rates, and improved treatment for cervical cancer.

What are major Challenges in India w.r.t Cervical Cancer?

  • High Mortality: Despite advances in health care, cervical cancer remains the second most common cancer among women in India, with 1.27 lakh cases and around 80,000 deaths being reported annually.
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a primary reason in the development of cervical cancer. 
  • Supply Side Challenges: Access to vaccination services in underserved populations is imperative. Awareness campaigns are essential to improve demand.
  • Vaccine hesitancy and equitable access:  Addressing vaccine hesitancy remains a challenge. Ensuring equitable access to HPV vaccination is crucial. Efforts needed to engage communities and dispel misinformation.
    • Initiatives like U-WIN aim to enhance vaccination tracking and responsiveness nationwide.

Initiatives taken for a comprehensive strategy of disease prevention and health promotion:

  • At Global level
    • World Health Organization: The WHO has outlined the ‘90-70-90’ targets by 2030 for 90% of girls to be fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15, for 70% of women to undergo cervical cancer screening tests by the age of 35 and 45, and for 90% of women with cervical cancer to be treated.
      • These targets represent milestones in the global effort to eradicate cervical cancer and highlight the pivotal role of India’s call for HPV vaccination in achieving this goal.
    • Other countries: The success stories from countries like Scotland, Australia, and Rwanda highlight the effectiveness of HPV vaccination in reducing cervical cancer incidence. Bhutan is also one of the only low-middle income countries (LMIC) to have begun vaccinating boys as well (in 2021).
  • At National level:
    • Sikkim Model: Sikkim’s successful HPV vaccination campaign in 2018, with a 97% vaccination coverage, exemplifies an effective public health strategy. By educating teachers, parents, girls, healthcare workers, and the media about the benefits of the HPV vaccine, Sikkim demonstrated a targeted and impactful approach.
    • Indigenous vaccine: Developed by the Serum Institute of India – ‘Cervavac’, marks a significant stride towards ensuring accessibility and affordability. 
    • Interim Union Budget 2024-25: India’s inclusion of HPV vaccination in the interim Budget 2024-25 marks a significant step towards safeguarding women’s health against cervical cancer.

Way Forward:

  • Enhancing Vaccine Acceptance: Improving awareness and tailoring messages to diverse communities are essential for successful HPV vaccination programs.
  • Networking on Vaccine Acceptance: Leveraging various communication channels and integrating HPV education in schools are key strategies. Collaborations between stakeholders are crucial for program success.
  • Promoting of Public-Private Partnerships: Public-private partnerships are vital for ensuring equitable access to vaccination services and safeguarding women’s health against cervical cancer.


Due to the lack of necessary infrastructure and quality control, high-quality cytology screening may not be feasible for wide-scale implementation. Hence, cervical cancer screening programs such as VIA/VILI should be adopted as an integral part of primary health-care.

Practice Question:
According to the recent survey, India contributes to a significant rate of cervical cancer in women. In this light, critically analyze the need for appropriate interventions in Primary Health Policies.

Approach for the Answer:

Theme: Try to give some recent Reports/Statistics on Cervical Cancer.

Demand 1: Major Challenges;
Demand 2: Initiatives taken by the Government;
Demand 3: Suggest some Way Forward;

Way Forward:
Summarize along with value addition. Give overall summarization and provide some innovative solutions.


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