HPV vaccines introduced in four new countries, aided by IFFIm funding

HPV vaccines introduced in four new countries, aided by IFFIm funding

16 December 2022

IFFIm funding for Gavi’s ongoing HPV programmes is helping to prevent this deadly cancer in girls and women.

IFFIm funding for Gavi’s ongoing HPV programmes is helping to prevent this deadly cancer in girls and women

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IFFIm impact: HPV

Vaccine bonds enabled IFFIm to disburse nearly US$ 80 million to Gavi for HPV immunisation programmes.

 

In 2022, Gavi celebrated a milestone in the deployment of its HPV programme. HPV vaccines have been introduced into national immunisation schedules in 31 Gavi-supported countries so far, most recently in Kyrgyzstan, Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Sierra Leone.

With growing coverage in wealthier countries, the burden of HPV-related cervical cancer has shifted to lower and middle-income countries, many of which lack reliable access to vaccines and other forms of prevention.  Ninety percent of deaths from cervical cancer worldwide occur in these countries.

The HPV vaccine was introduced 15 years ago. Since then, researchers have amassed an abundance of real-world data proving its effectiveness in preventing cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer among women. The vaccine can prevent up to 90 percent of all cases of cervical cancer, and recent data suggests the vaccine could also reduce the risk of cervical abnormalities returning after surgery.

Girls waiting to receive the HPV vaccine at War Wounded Primary School in Grafton District, Sierra Leone. Credit: Gavi/2022/Joshua Kamara.

IFFIm funding for Gavi’s ongoing HPV programmes is helping to prevent this deadly cancer in girls and women. US$ 79.4 million1 in proceeds from IFFIm vaccine bonds have been disbursed to Gavi for HPV immunisation programmes, improving the health outlook for millions of mothers, daughters, partners and sisters.

One such HPV success story is in Lesotho. The initial HPV programme in Lesotho was abandoned in 2015 because of financial constraints. The Lesotho government reintroduced the HPV vaccination programme in April 2022, offering the vaccine in schools.

“These girls are very fortunate,” said Manthati Tšeloa, a food and nutrition teacher at Masianokeng High School in Maseru. “We have been encouraging parents to allow their children to get vaccinated because, in some cases, parents prevent their children from receiving vaccines.”

Sierra Leone, where cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women,3 introduced the HPV vaccine to the routine immunisation schedule in October 2022. Sierra Leone is the 19th African country to introduce the HPV vaccine.4 The initiative is targeted to reach more than 150,000 girls in the country. The government has deployed more than 1,400 teams of health workers, community mobilisers and educators to immunise its girls.

“This is a pivotal moment as we seek to eliminate cervical cancer in Sierra Leone. Part of that strategy is vaccination,” said David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Education who is also Chief Innovation Officer. “The government spends over 20% of our budget on education, ensuring that our children access education, stay in and transition out of school. It will be disastrous for us to invest in children and girls, who then will grow up to have cervical cancer and die just when they are ready to reap the benefits. That is why, for us, it’s so critical that our girls can access preventative methods as well as early detection and treatment.”


1 IFFIm Disbursements

2 SITE PROFILE: THE SENKATANA CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE AND THE BOTŚABELO COMPLEX / MASERU, LESOTHO

3 Statistics from the Sierra Leone Cancer registry show that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer (after breast cancer) and the biggest killer of all cancers among women aged between 14 and 44 years old

4 “A pivotal moment”: Sierra Leone makes HPV vaccine available to girls across country - VaccinesWork (gavi.org)