The fight against cervical cancer

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Statement by the GAVI Alliance interim CEO, Helen Evans

Geneva, 26 April 2011 - Every year, some 270,000 women die from cervical cancer, most of them in developing countries where screening and treatment services are lacking. In a country like Rwanda, cervical cancer is the leading cancer killer. Most of these deaths occur when women are in their forties and fifties, as opposed to most cancers which kill later in life, therefore, in addition to the personal and family tragedy, causing an important national economic and health burden.

GAVI is committed to working with its partners to accelerate the introduction of HPV vaccines into poor countries and working to make vaccines more affordable.

Helen Evans, Interim CEO, GAVI Alliance

Human papillomaviruses ( HPV ), a group of commonly transmitted viruses, are the cause of cervical cancer. Two HPV types, types 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Two new highly effective and safe HPV vaccines offer the opportunity to protect women against infection with these two types of HPV responsible for most cervical cancers. Recognising the benefits of the HPV vaccines, many industrialised countries have already introduced them into routine immunisation for girls and young women. Developing countries, where the burden of cervical cancer is the highest, are also keen to provide the vaccines.

Today, Rwanda is introducing the HPV vaccine into its national immunisation programme. The announcement that Rwandan girls will benefit from HPV vaccine protection marks one step further in the fight against this killer cancer.

GAVI is committed to working with its partners to accelerate the introduction of HPV vaccines into poor countries and working to make vaccines more affordable. A successful outcome of GAVI's Pledging Conference on 13 June will accelerate the introduction of HPV vaccines to the poorest girls and women of the world.

11 million

Gavi support had contributed to immunising 11 million children against pneumococcal disease by the end of 2013.

WHO/UNICEF

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