A comparative analysis of cervical cancer prevention between Nigeria and Nordic countries that have experienced a decline in cervical cancer incidence

Int Health. 2021 Jul 3;13(4):307-317. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihaa062.


Background: A modelling analysis carried out in 2014 suggested that, without cervical cancer screening programmes, the incidence of cervical cancer in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden would have been as high as that in some low- and middle-income countries. We compare programme strategies between Nigeria and these Nordic countries and develop translatable recommendations.

Methods: A literature review using a systematic approach through Medline, Popline, Global Health, CINAHL PLUS, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, Google Scholar, Africa Wide and WHO databases was conducted.

Results: Fifteen journal articles and two grey literature reports met our criteria. Six descriptive studies from Nigeria noted that services in Nigeria were mainly provided in urban secondary/tertiary facilities and that uptake was low even where screening was free. Trials in Nigeria and Sweden noted that subsidies and free programmes alone did not improve uptake; a Danish trial demonstrated that reminders and invitations issued by general practitioners improved participation.

Conclusion: Free screening programmes are important but should also consider incentivisation of treatment when needed and demand creation among health workers. Additionally, effective monitoring and evaluation of programme data are key to improving and maintaining quality. More broadly, we suggest that Nigeria can build success through stakeholder-led implementation of well-defined policies with national consensus to ensure coordination and sustainability.

Keywords: Nigeria; Scandinavian and Nordic countries; cervical cancer; prevention and control; public health systems research; review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Nigeria
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / prevention & control