Eliminating Cervical Cancer: FIGO calls for grant proposals for new pilot project

FIGO is launching a pilot project to investigate the feasibility of supporting the implementation of WHO-advocated strategies for increasing vaccination against HPV and engaging women with cervical screening.

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Vaccination

We are inviting our members, including National Societies and Regional Federations, to apply for funding to identify in-country gaps in cervical cancer vaccination and screening, whether educational, professional or collaborative. Applicants will propose a one-year programme to design and test an education and/or advocacy initiative focused on vaccination or screening in a region(s) where no formal programme exists or, if present, is as yet unsuccessful.

We are delighted to announce that FIGO plans to award up to four grants of up to £20,000 each, or £40,000 for combined regional applications. These will be distributed globally to societies in lower-middle income countries (LMICs).

Selection will be made by the FIGO Committee for Gynecologic Oncology in collaboration with the FIGO Board of Trustees, based on the criteria outlined in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

More information about the pilot project, including criteria and information for applicants, can be found on the project page. Grant proposals must be submitted by 23.59 (UTC+1) on 9 July.

Introduction to the Pilot Project

FIGO aims to develop evidence-based models on successful collaborative structures to facilitate the sustainable implementation of WHO’s evidence-based guidance for vaccination and screening. The project will focus on three clear aims:

  1. identify gaps impacting present vaccination strategies
  2. work with member societies to develop reproducible projects targeting collaborative introduction of a vaccination programme where none exists, or addressing underlying gaps in current rollout
  3. expand knowledge in addressing global implementation, with special but not exclusive interest in non-GAVI LMICs.

The project will consist of two phases: assessment and design, followed by initial implementation. We are currently inviting applications for assessment and design grants.

The project is being led by members of the FIGO Committee for Gynecologic Oncology (Professor Sean Kehoe, Chair, Professor Joanna Cain, Past Chair and current member of WHO Guidelines Development Group (GDG) for elimination of Cervical Cancer, Professor Neerja Bhatla, member of FIGO Committee and WHO GDG, and Professor Mary Ann Lumsden CEO FIGO). Grantees’ work will be supported by designated members of the FIGO Committee for Gynecologic Oncology, associated gynecological oncologists, and FIGO HQ.

Further grants may be available subsequently, based on success, needs and available funds, to enable grantees to continue sustainable implementation of the project.

The WHO revised evidence-based guidelines are being launched in the near future, offering FIGO and our member societies the opportunity to demonstrate the added value we bring to the implementation work with deep and expansive reach into the gynecological community.

How to apply 

To find out more about the pilot project, please visit the project website page.

RFPs should return their completed forms to [email protected] by 23.59 (UTC+1) on 9 July.

If you have any queries about the project or submission process, please contact [email protected]

Background: Cervical Cancer and Elimination Strategies

Each year more than 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over a quarter of a million die. More than 85% of these deaths occur in lower-middle-income countries – a figure that is estimated to rise to 95% over time, due to limited access to cervical cancer screening programmes and robust HPV vaccination.

The WHO, along with FIGO and many global partners, sees a path to the eradication of this deadly disease through an emphasis on vaccination and screening. However, gaps exist in professional and community education, sustainability of prevention strategies, and coordination of in-country implementation.

In-country implementation and education targeting cervical cancer elimination must focus on two key elements:

  • Vaccination is key to preventing pre-invasive disease and has been identified by WHO and other global health leaders as a crucial part of the elimination strategy. A successful vaccination programme depends upon political support, education, infrastructure, knowledge and training, plus support from and collaboration with other organisations.
  • Screening strategies – such as cervical smears, VIA (Visual Inspection) and DNA- and RNA-based HPV testing – are major contributors to the reduction in cervical cancer. Research shows variable efficacy with a wide range of screening strategies. Implementation of the most efficacious strategy for a country or region is the goal, whether increasing access or shifting strategy to cover more women.

Three quarters of women in low-income countries present with advanced disease (stage 3 and 4) invasive cervical cancer without surgical options and limited access to chemo-radiotherapy or palliative care. Prevention, whether primary or screening, is therefore a priority tactic to eliminate cervical cancer.