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REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES

51 CANCER CONTROL 2021

multilateral strategies. These strategies include strengthening

countries supply chain management, addressing procurement

practices, tax and tariff policies, and strengthening national

drug regulatory authorities.

To strengthen collective efforts, Commonwealth member

states must take the necessary steps to emphasize the inclusion

of cervical cancer in national health sector plans, and to utilize

population registries to build robust surveillance data, on

areas such as HIV-status, other cancers, vaccination status and

screening results. The integration of cervical cancer services

into existing primary health care and public health services will

help to provide greater access to cervical cancer screening and

treatment for women across the Commonwealth

Whilst progress has been made over the last decade,

it is evident, particularly taking into consideration the

COVID-19 pandemic, that member states must sustain and

expand on existing cervical cancer elimination efforts. The

Commonwealth Secretariat is keen to continue supporting

member states on the next steps towards fair and transparent

pricing for cervical cancer medicines, including reviewing

procurement legislation, medicine regulation and registration,

with a view to harmonization. The race towards the elimination

of cervical cancer within the Commonwealth is underway, with

a line of sight on 2030. n

Dr Janneth Mghamba is the Health Advisor for the

Commonwealth Secretariat. A medical doctor and epidemiologist,

Janneth has over 15 years of experience in global health and

developing national health systems, with a particular focus on

NCDs. Prior to joining the Commonwealth Secretariat, Janneth

worked as the Assistant Director for the Epidemiology and Disease

Control section of Tanzania's Ministry of Health.

Emily Gilmour is a mixed-methods researcher and global health

policy professional with over six years of experience designing and

managing social research projects. She currently works as a Health

Researcher at the Commonwealth Secretariat, working across

a range of global health priorities including reducing the burden

of noncommunicable diseases, COVID-19 response and health

security and resilience.

Victoria Rutter was appointed as the first Executive Director

of the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association in 2016. Her

dedication has significantly increased the charity's footprint and

work streams, supporting better access to and use of medicines in

lower resource settings, including pioneering the highly commended

Commonwealth Partnerships in Antimicrobial Stewardship

programme. She has led advocacy for the profession in numerous

high-level policy forums and is the civil society representative on

the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health.

commitments, in alignment with the WHO's Global Strategy

for Cervical Cancer Elimination, to reduce and ultimately

eliminate cervical cancer in the Commonwealth. Part of

this effort has been the development of a new voluntary

information and price-sharing database - the Voluntary

Information and Price-sharing Database (VIPSD).

The VIPSD is an output from the 2018 CHMM, to take

collective action on health priorities including cervical

cancer, such as reducing the costs of essential medicines,

vaccines and health technologies. This initiative is the result

of a collaboration between the Commonwealth Secretariat,

consultants from the South African Programme on Access to

Medicines and Diagnostics (SAPAM), the Southern African

Development Community (SADC) and the Organization for

Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The platform is modelled

on a similar initiative created by SADC, and has now been

launched to be used across The Commonwealth.

The database has been designed primarily as a means for

countries to share information on the pricing of medicines

and medical commodities. The platform is an easy way to

identify areas where countries have made or can make savings

in the procurement of essential medicines. In alignment with

priorities of the Commonwealth Health Ministries, the key

objectives of the VIPSD are to:

J Reduce manufacturer net selling price for member states.

J Improve efficiency of forecasting and price negotiation

process for members.

J Provide a readily searchable database of verified supply

information to ease decision making for procurement

processes.

J Allow provision of data driven price analysis and insight for

key stakeholders.

The launch of the VIPSD will help to provide a greater degree

of transparency for member states, helping them to make more

informed decisions about procuring medicines and vaccines.

Furthermore, acknowledging that many member states face

challenges in accessing quality and affordable cervical cancer

medicines and vaccines, it is expected that the VIPSD will

reduce inequities and disparities for LMICs. Is it premature to

say how many LMIC Commonwealth members have joined this

initiative?

Moving forward - how greater access will support

elimination

It is clear that the elimination of cervical cancer will not be

achieved only through greater access to fair and transparent

pricing alone. Rather, the solution is multifaceted, and

will require many arms of government to build effective

policies and mechanisms, in addition to harnessing collective

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