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African Governments Should Commit To Scaling-Up National HPV Immunization Programs

CNBC Africa: Op-Ed: Africa is now in serious danger of sleepwalking into a cancer crisis
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…Currently 266,000 women die horrible deaths [from cervical cancer] every year — one every two minutes — of which 87 percent are in low- and middle-income countries, with the eight highest rates of incidence all in Africa. … And yet, tragically most of these deaths could be prevented thanks to the existence of an affordable and effective vaccine [for human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes a majority of cervical cancer cases]. … If we want to make a long-term dent on mortality rates, and prevent cervical cancer from continuing to rise, … then HPV programs need to be scaled-up to a national level. … Countries like Rwanda and Uganda have already demonstrated that this can be achieved by first recognizing the scale and severity of the problem, and then to acting on it. If other countries do the same, Gavi hopes to reach 40 million girls between now and 2020, preventing 900,000 deaths. We saw a significant step in the right direction exactly one year ago, when on World Cancer Day, then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a rallying cry to eliminate cervical cancer once and for all. Then this week the African Union … endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, a commitment to ensure that all Africans — no matter who they are or where they live — can access the vaccines they need to live healthy and productive lives. The next step is for governments to earmark funds and commit to national HPV vaccine introductions…” (2/3).

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