Partnership of US$10 million launched to reduce cervical cancer in poorest countries

19th October 2016 Adam Pitt

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and social enterprise Girl Effect have formed a US$10 million partnership to curb a rise in the number of girls contracting cervical cancer in least developed countries.

The partnership was launched on the International Day of the Girl, held every year on 11 October.

A widely available human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine protects against 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, though the disease remains the leading cause of cancer in 40 out of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. If left untreated, cervical cancer could threaten to take more women’s lives in these countries than childbirth. Sub-Saharan Africa already accounts for more than half of worldwide cases of maternal mortality, according to the World Health Organization.

“The HPV vaccine is a vital tool in the battle against cervical cancer, especially in countries where lack of access to screening and treatment is a major issue,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“Our partnership with Girl Effect is an opportunity to bring this vaccine to the attention of girls who are at risk of missing out on its lifesaving impact.”

An estimated 266,000 women and girls die from cervical cancer each year, of which more than 85 percent live in developing countries. That figure could rise to 416,000 with 95 percent of fatalities in developing countries by the year 2035, according to new partners.

Under the partnership, Gavi will provide financial support to help girls in countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Malawi purchase HPV vaccines.

Girl Effect’s US$5 million contribution will be matched through Gavi’s Matching Fund following a €10 million commitment made by the Dutch Government to support an immunisation programme, in January 2015.

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