GAVI Alliance To Fund HPV Immunization Projects In 8 Countries

The GAVI Alliance “is to help protect more than 180,000 girls in eight countries across Africa and Asia from cervical cancer by funding immunization projects with vaccines from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline,” Reuters reports in an article examining the group’s efforts to vaccinate young women with Merck’s Gardasil and GSK’s Cervarix, “the world’s only two approved shots designed to protect against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes the vast majority of cervical cancer cases” (Kelland, 2/3). Cervical cancer leads to approximately 275,000 deaths among women annually, “with 85 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries,” the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network notes, adding, “The figure is estimated to rise to 430,000 by 2030 but the death toll could be reversed if young girls in low- and middle-income countries can be reached for HPV vaccination.”

“GAVI-funded pilot projects are due to start in eight countries — Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania,” and “[a] full rollout of funding will be available to those countries that can demonstrate their ability to deliver the vaccine,” the Guardian reports (Parry, 2/4). “‘Introducing the HPV vaccine in developing countries is the start of a global effort to protect all girls against cervical cancer,’ GAVI chief executive Seth Berkley said in a statement,” Reuters notes. “GAVI — backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, UNICEF, donor governments and others — has been working with the vaccine manufacturers to secure the most affordable price for the shots,” according to the news agency (2/3).