The nonprofit GAVI Alliance, which funds bulk-buy vaccination programs for poor nations, will safeguard more than 180,000 girls from cervical cancer in eight countries across Africa and Asia by funding immunization projects with vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Merck. The eight countries GAVI will support for cervical cancer protection pilot projects are Kenya, Ghana, Laos, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
The world’s only two approved shots are GSK's Cervarix and Merck's Gardasil vaccines, which are designed to protect against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes the greatest share of cervical cancer cases. More than 85 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing nations, and 275,000 women die of the disease each year. GAVI declares that, globally, cervical cancer now kills more women than childbirth, taking a life every two minutes. Experts have stated that if no action is taken to protect females from cervical cancer, the annual worldwide death rate could rise to 430,000 by 2030.
GAVI’s vaccination efforts will receive backing from the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, UNICEF, donor governments, and others. These organizations have been working with the vaccine manufacturers to secure the most affordable price for the shots. These pilot projects will provide countries an opportunity to test whether they can put systems into place that are needed to offer HPV vaccines nationally.
Most vaccines are offered to infants and children under age five; however, HPV vaccines are to be given to girls aged nine to 13 to protect them before they become sexually active. A major challenge is that many developing countries do not provide routine health services for girls in this age group. GAVI does point out that the initial experience in offering HPV vaccines through schools in Latin America, Asia, and Africa has been encouraging. GAVI states that it hopes to help more than 20 countries immunize approximately a million girls with HPV vaccines by 2015 via these pilot projects; by the year 2020, GAVI anticipates helping more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries obtain the vaccine.