DCM Dressel Remarks at the Cervical Cancer Equipment Delivery Ceremony

DCM Abigail Dressel and the First Lady of Mozambique, Dr. Isaura Nyusi

December 9, 2020

Your Excellency Dr. Isaura Ferrão Nyusi, First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique,

Your Excellency Dr. Armindo Tiago, Minister of Health of Mozambique,

Dear guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, I would like to greet all of you present at this noble ceremony and thank you for the opportunity to say a few words, as this event constitutes an important milestone in the cervical cancer response in Mozambique.

I would also like to compliment the leadership of Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique, Dr. Isaura Ferrão Nyusi, for her selfless dedication to the cause of the fight against cancer, and in particular to the cervical cancer, which represents a threat to the health of many Mozambican women.

As committed partners of Mozambique’s health sector, we are inspired by the remarkable dedication and hard work provided by health professionals throughout Mozambique.  I especially appreciate Dr. Cesaltina Ferreira Lorenzoni, for her work and excellent collaboration with the U.S. Government.  I am confident that, together, we will continue to save lives.

Mozambique is one of 15 countries with the highest rate of cervical cancer in the world.   According to the World Health Organization, there are about 4,300 new cases of cervical cancer every year.  And every year, Mozambique loses 3,400 mothers, sisters, and daughters due to this disease.

Ceremony to deliver Cervical Cancer equipment to the Government of Mozambique
DCM Abigail Dressel giving remarks in ceremony to deliver Cervical Cancer equipment to the Government of Mozambique

The United States Government recognizes the need to reduce the rate of cervical cancer and has made important investments to complement the Ministry of Health in improving the national response capacity to cervical cancer. This support has been made available under the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and through its agencies including CDC and the Agency for Cooperation and Development (USAID), and also by their implementing partners. Concurrently, additional funds have been channeled through other initiatives, such as the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.

CDC’s support for the cervical cancer program at the Ministry of Health started in 2010, a year in which the first financial contribution was made to support the cancer screening program. Since then, CDC has progressively expanded its support to the Ministry of Health.  And over the past two years, PEPFAR has provided more than $10 million dollars to the Health Ministry’s response to cervical cancer for women living with HIV.

This financial support went towards equipment for diagnosis and treatment, training and mentoring for health professionals, hiring nurses, and for remodeling and equipping infrastructures.  We hope that this support leads to higher quality screening services for precancerous lesions, and timely and appropriate treatment of diagnosed lesions.

In this partnership, we have made tremendous progress with very encouraging results.  For example, in the past two years, our support has contributed to increasing the number of women living with HIV who had access to diagnosis for detecting cervical lesions from 10,000 to more than 115,000.  We also supported the expansion of the capacity to treat precancerous lesions, with around 7,500 women beneficiaries this year alone.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The progress that Mozambique has made in preventing cervical cancer has received special recognition from the Government of the United States of America and the Global Ambassador of the United States Response to AIDS, Dr. Deborah Birx, on World AIDS Day this year.  In fact, of the approximately 50 countries supported by PEPFAR in the world, Mozambique was the only one that exceeded the annual targets for cervical cancer screening.  For this reason, Your Excellency First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique, Dr. Isaura Ferrão Nyusi; Your Excellency Minister of Health, Dr. Armindo Daniel Tiago, we are pleased to say that the national program is to be congratulated!

We would like to reaffirm our commitment to continue to support the Ministry of Health through technical assistance and direct funding so that there is a capacity to implement the program in each province.  Today, with great satisfaction, we are donating equipment to continue our longstanding support for the health sector, and improve access to high-quality screening and treatment.

Our goal is that all women living with HIV can have access to cervical cancer screening and timely and appropriate treatment to reduce mortality from this disease.

We are sure that, together, we will win this fight.

Thank you very much.