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206,000 more girls to benefit from HPV vaccine with GAVI Alliance supporT

Countries introducing HPV vaccine with GAVI support

View the map to see countries introducing HPV vaccine with GAVI support.

Geneva, 4 February 2014 – An estimated 206,000 girls in 10 developing countries are expected to benefit from the introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against the leading cause of cervical cancer, announced the GAVI Alliance on World Cancer Day.

The latest round of approved HPV vaccine introductions will see 10 countries begin targeted demonstration projects. The new approvals bring the total number of countries lined up to receive GAVI support for HPV vaccine to 21.

“HPV vaccine offers the best hope at protecting young girls from cervical cancer, one of the leading cancer killers of women in low-income countries,” said Dr Seth Berkley, GAVI Alliance CEO. “Current estimates show that by 2035 cervical cancer could claim the lives of 416,000 women each year, most of them living in developing countries. The good news is that since GAVI began supporting HPV last year, there has been a real surge in demand for this vaccine. Our goal is to ensure that the vaccine reaches girls no matter where they live.”

The ten countries planning to implement HPV vaccine demonstration projects over the next three years are Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Solomon Islands, and Togo.

Three doses of the vaccine will be administered to girls in schools over a six month period while out-of-school girls will be reached through health facilities and community outreach programmes.

HPV vaccine offers the best hope at protecting young girls from cervical cancer, one of the leading cancer killers of women in low-income countries.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance

The demonstration projects provide countries with an opportunity to gain experience in reaching girls with vaccines outside the usual routine immunisation schedule and to make informed decisions about whether to apply for a national introduction. The wide reach of the immunisation programmes also provides an opportunity for countries to implement other health interventions that may benefit young adolescent girls.

An estimated 266,000 women die every year from cervical cancer, of which more than 85% live in low-income countries, according to the latest statistics published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Without changes in prevention and control, cervical cancer deaths are expected to rise to 416,000 by 2035, with over 95% expected to be women living in poor countries.

Women in developing countries often lack access to cervical cancer screening and treatment, making HPV vaccine the best prevention tool against cervical cancer. Unlike most other vaccines, which are administered to children under the age of five, HPV vaccines are given to girls aged nine to 13. Vaccination against HPV is more effective before a person is infected with the virus. Immunising girls before initiation of sexual activity, that is before exposure to HPV infection, is a key strategy to prevent cervical cancer.

The World Cancer Day campaign, organised by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), has the tagline “Debunk the Myths”. The campaign is focusing on four general misconceptions around cancer which are common around the world, including the myth: “there is nothing I can do about cancer”. Several cancers are triggered by infections, including liver, cervical cancer, stomach and some lymphomas, some of which can currently be prevented with existing vaccines – hepatitis B vaccine against liver cancer and HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.

GAVI is funded by governments [Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States], the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as private and corporate partners [Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, Dutch Postcode Lottery, His Highness Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Clubs, OPEC and Vodafone].

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