Organised and quality assured cytology-based screening programmes have substantially reduced cervical cancer incidence in many developed countries. However, there are considerable barriers to setting up cytology-based screening programs, particularly in developing countries. This has stimulated the search for novel and alternative approaches to cytology for cervical cancer prevention. These approaches generally perform as well as cytology, and sometimes better, although many of them have a lower specificity, resulting in higher false-positive rates. The possibility of linking screening to treatment in a one- or two-visit strategy appears to be safe, feasible and effective. Barriers to establishing screening programs and the pitfalls encountered differ from one country to the next. Country-specific solutions need to be found, while being cognizant of the criteria that have enabled successful screening programmes.