Healthy girls, healthy women

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From 2013, Gavi is supporting countries to roll out two vaccines that will directly benefit women: HPV and rubella

Ocean Road Cancer Institute

Diani Petti, a cancer patient in the women's ward at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, the only cancer hospital in Tanzania.
Credit: Gavi/2012/Sala Lewis.

Immunising adolescent girls, protecting future generations of women

Future generations of women will look back on 2013 as the year when developing countries embarked on global efforts against the scourge of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer killed 275,000 women in 2008, over 85% of those deaths occurred in developing countries. Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in many countries.

Over half of the global cervical cancer burden exists in countries that are eligible for Gavi support.

Despite the availability of safe and effective HPV vaccines that can protect against 70% of cervical cancer cases, the high price of the vaccine and challenges facing countries to reach adolescent girls have been barriers.

February 4th 2013, World Cancer Day, marked a major step forward in the prevention of cervical cancer with the ground breaking announcement of the first countries to get Gavi-supported HPV vaccines. Ghana, Kenya, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania will get HPV vaccines and support from Gavi to pilot the best ways to deliver the vaccine to girls together with other interventions that benefit their lives. The demonstration projects aim to pave the way for countries to build capacity and infrastructure needed to vaccinate girls nationwide. In 2014 Gavi will support the first nationwide introduction of HPV vaccine in Rwanda, as well as HPV demonstration projects in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Gavi’s support to countries will see a dramatic scale up of HPV vaccine introductions. Over 30 million girls in more than 40 countries will be vaccinated with Gavi support by 2020.

In May 2013, Gavi secured a new low price for the HPV vaccine, opening the door for millions of girls in the world's poorest countries to be protected against one of the leading cancer killers of women. Gavi-eligible countries will now have access to a sustainable supply of HPV vaccines for as low as US$ 4.50 per dose. The same vaccines can cost more than US$ 100 in developed countries and the previous lowest public sector price was US$ 13 per dose.

HPV vaccines provide a tremendous opportunity to put girls at the centre of development. Gavi has engaged new partners across areas such as education, adolescent reproductive health, nutrition, family planning, and maternal health to design HPV immunisation as a platform to deliver the vaccine with other essential interventions to improve the health and well-being of adolescents.

Doubling the impact

2013 is a game changer for women and infants. For the first-time, Gavi is supporting the roll out of rubella vaccines through catalytic support for measles-rubella campaigns.

Rubella infection just before conception or during pregnancy can cause miscarriage and stillbirth, and babies born with life-long birth defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

Rubella vaccine has been available since the 1970s but is underused in some regions, particularly Africa and South Asia. Accelerating the introduction of a combined measles-rubella vaccine in developing countries will spread its protection to those in most need and builds on Gavi’s long term support for measles control.

Gavi is investing more than $US 600 million in the fight against measles-rubella through large-scale catch up campaigns that aim to catalyse countries to self-finance the introduction of measles-rubella into routine immunisation programs. This is a major step in accelerating global progress in controlling two life-threatening diseases with a cost-effective vaccine.

In March 2013, Rwanda became the first country to introduce measles-rubella vaccine campaign with Gavi support. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Senegal and Vietnam will follow this year.

Delivering on the promise to girls and women

By 2020, over 30 million girls in more than 40 countries will be immunised with HPV vaccines, and more than 700 million children in 49 countries will be immunised against two life-threatening diseases – rubella and measles.

7 million

Since its launch in 2000, Gavi has helped developing countries to prevent 7 million future deaths from hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), measles, meningitis A, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus diarrhoea and yellow fever.

Gavi / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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