Geneva — More than 180,000 girls in eight developing countries are set to receive protection against the leading cause of cervical cancer thanks to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines funded by the GAVI Alliance.
In an announcement made on World Cancer Day, the Alliance confirmed that Ghana, Kenya, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania will become the first countries to receive GAVI support to start HPV vaccine demonstration programmes.
The demonstration programmes will give each country the opportunity to test their ability to put in place the systems that would be needed to roll out the HPV vaccines nationally and to inform their decisions. Unlike most other vaccines, which are administered to children under the age of five, HPV vaccines are given to girls aged nine to 13.
“Introducing the HPV vaccine in developing countries is the start of a global effort to protect all girls against cervical cancer,” said Dr Seth Berkley, GAVI CEO. “Of the 275,000 women who die of cervical cancer annually, 85% live in the world’s poorest countries. Cervical cancer is one of the leading cancer killers of women in the developing world.”
By 2015, GAVI plans to support more than 20 countries to vaccinate approximately one million girls with HPV vaccines through pilot projects. By 2020, more than 30 million girls are expected to have been vaccinated in over 40 countries with GAVI support.
Seven of the eight selected countries will begin introducing HPV vaccines this year targeting girls aged 9 to 13, mainly through schools but also community health programmes to reach girls who do not go to school. Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone are likely to be the first to begin administering HPV vaccinations in early 2013 with Tanzania planning to start next year.
GAVI-eligible countries which already have systems in place for national rollouts targeting adolescent girls can apply for funding without undertaking demonstration projects