Protecting girls and women from cervical cancer

Women don’t have to die of cervical cancer, but many do—particularly in the developing world, where an estimated 85 percent of the world’s 250,000 cervical cancer deaths take place. New vaccines are now available to protect girls and women from human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, and PATH is laying the groundwork for international support and successful introduction of these vaccines into developing countries.

In India, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam, our demonstration projects are exploring strategies that can achieve high coverage for vaccinating girls 9 to 14 years old against HPV. The projects are looking at social and cultural concerns, vaccine acceptability, the realities of existing health systems, and the costs of each approach. In 2008, nearly 9,000 girls were vaccinated in more than 700 schools in Peru, and vaccinations began in Uganda. Research is well under way in Vietnam and will soon begin in India.

Early results are highly encouraging, as communities, health providers, and decision-makers are supportive of the vaccine and recognize its need. As the project progresses, we anticipate that our research will help country governments and international agencies prioritize funding for and introduction of HPV vaccines throughout the developing world, protecting countless women and their families from cervical cancer.

Partners

Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention

Catalan Institute of Oncology

Cervical Cancer Action

GAVI Alliance

Harvard University

International Agency for Research on Cancer

Ministries of health in India (Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat), Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam

Research and implementation partners in India, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam

World Health Organization

Photo: PATH/Mike Wang.

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Three young women in Honduras
New vaccines are protecting girls in India, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam from HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer.

This project received innovation funding at a critical point in its development.