Fast-Tracking Cervical Cancer Elimination in the Commonwealth

Remarks by Dr. José M. Zuniga, President/CEO, IAPAC and Fast-Track Cities Institute,
at the Commonwealth Secretariat Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Webinar
31 January 2024 (Virtual)

Thank you for inviting me to the Commonwealth Secretariat’s commemoration of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. I represent the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and Fast-Track Cities Institute (FTCI), which are providing support to a network focused on accelerating urban HIV responses. This 500-plus city network has great potential to expand its scope to encompass the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health threat by 2030.

In relation to HIV, the network has effectively leveraged urban public health leadership in close to 100 Commonwealth cities around the world since its launch in 2014. These cities have achieved significant improvements in HIV treatment coverage, equitably closing gaps related to testing, linkage to care, treatment, and treatment outcomes. This type of urban public health leadership can and should be leveraged towards the goal of eliminating cervical cancer and we are eager to partner with the Commonwealth Secretariat to advance work in this regard.

Several Commonwealth countries, including Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, host many Fast-Track Cities. This critical mass of Fast-Track Cities has also enabled a national consortium effect in scaling up HIV prevention. I am convinced we can achieve a similar prevention success by, for example, rolling out urban gender-neutral HPV vaccination programs across the Commonwealth, an approach we believe is essential to breaking the transmission cycle, protecting everyone from HPV-related diseases, notably cervical cancer.

Of course, the urban advantages for cervical cancer elimination extend beyond HPV vaccination. Urban settings often have better access to healthcare facilities, allowing for efficient screening and early detection programs. Robust healthcare infrastructure in cities facilitates outreach initiatives, ensuring that diverse populations receive regular screenings, HPV testing, and timely interventions. Moreover, urban centers can harness technology for health education campaigns, empowering residents with knowledge about cervical cancer prevention. Leveraging the Fast-Track Cities infrastructure and the Commonwealth’s commitment, we can utilize the concentration of resources and expertise in cities to support comprehensive and accessible urban cervical cancer elimination programs.

For all these reasons, we look forward to a strategic partnership between Fast-Track Cities, Commonwealth countries, and the Commonwealth Secretariat – a partnership that can help to leverage urban public health leadership to realize the right to health for all, including by eliminating cervical cancer. Thank you for your commitment and for inviting us to partner with you.

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Representing 30,000 members, IAPAC is the largest association of clinicians and allied health professionals working to end the epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis, as well as eliminate HBV and HCV, by 2030. IAPAC is also a core technical partner to the Fast-Track Cities network and the Secretariat for its Fast-Track Cities Institute. IAPAC is also a member of the Global HPV Consortium, a public-private movement to prevent HPV infections and eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern. For more information about IAPAC, please visit:

About the Fast-Track Cities Institute
The Fast-Track Institute was created to support cities and municipalities worldwide in their efforts to achieve global health-related goals, including SDG 3.3 (ending the epidemics of HIV and TB), the World Health Organization goal of eliminating HBV and HCV, and the urban development-focused SDG 11 (making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). For information about the Fast-Track Cities Institute, please visit: