On May 9th, Merck, a global healthcare leader, announced that because the company had been awarded a portion of UNICEF HPV vaccine tender, these vaccines (Gardasil) will be provided in a sustained supply to various developing countries in Africa. The expected supply is approximately 2.4 million doses between now and 2017 in order to keep young girls healthy and at low risk for cervical cancer which has ravaged the female populations of developing countries. Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer among women worldwide, with 85% of its cases occurring in developing countries.
One dose of the vaccine, which would cost up to $130 in the US, will sell for $4.50 in the poorest of countries. These vaccines will be spread through Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Laos, Madagascar, and other developing countries in Africa and Asia. In places like Australia where the vaccines have been readily used and accepted, there has been a striking drop in cervical abnormalities and cases of warts especially, which fell by 93% among women and girls under age 21.
On May 14th, Kenya became the first of these countries to begin to vaccinate girls with the HPV vaccines. “This is an important moment for Kenyan women, as cervical cancer kills more Kenyan women than any other cancer,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, “working closely with partners WHO and UNICEF, GAVI’s support for HPV vaccines is bridging the gap between rich and poor countries, enabling HPV vaccines to reach girls no matter where they live.”
Along with the vaccines themselves in Kitui County, Kenya, boys and girls are also being provided with education on HPV, cervical cancer, and the importance of hygiene and hand washing. Most Kenyan girls will receive the vaccines through their schools, and this method will most likely be imitated by those who will receive the vaccines in Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, and other countries. With the introduction of these vaccines, cervical cancer rates will decline and allow more women from developing countries to live and thrive.
– Sarah Rybak
Source: All Africa