Bangladesh takes major step to reduce cervical cancer deaths

October 16, 2023 by PATH

Bangladesh is rolling out a nationwide human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign in a phased manner, starting in the Dhaka division on October 15. Upon the campaign's completion, HPV vaccine is expected to be added to the country’s routine immunization schedule.


Bangladesh began rolling out the first phase of their HPV vaccination campaign among girls at educational institutions in the Dhaka division on October 15, 2023. Photo: PATH/Maksudur Rahman.

On October 2, 2023, Bangladesh’s Honorable Health and Family Welfare Minister inaugurated the launch of the HPV Vaccination Campaign 2023 in Dhaka. The launch event was attended by top government officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Education, as well as key development partners and other stakeholders.

The HPV Vaccination Campaign 2023 started its first phase in all districts and sub-districts of the Dhaka division in mid-October, reaching a multi-aged cohort of both in- and out-of-school adolescent girls; other divisions of the country will follow soon after. At the launch event, officials reinforced the government’s firm commitment to achieving high coverage and equitable distribution of this cancer-preventing vaccine among vulnerable communities.

An historic step

The launch of the HPV vaccine in Bangladesh is noteworthy for many reasons. Cervical cancer is the second-leading cause of women’s deaths from cancer in the country. Nearly all cervical cancer cases can be attributed to HPV infection. Available since 2006, safe and effective HPV vaccines can prevent about 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases. Many women in Bangladesh have limited access to preventative and screening measures for cervical cancer, making HPV vaccination a critical tool to prevent this disease.

Bangladesh will be conducting division-wise phases of the introduction and following the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended single-dose schedule. This is the second Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) vaccine that Bangladesh has added for adolescent girls after the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine.

This HPV campaign banner is used at the vaccination sites and in stakeholder meetings. The campaign mnemonic is on the left side of the banner, and eligibility criteria and instructions for online registration are on the right side of the banner.

This HPV vaccine campaign banner is used at the vaccination sites and in stakeholder meetings. The campaign mnemonic is on the left side of the banner, and eligibility criteria and instructions for online registration are on the right side of the banner.

The EPI has set bold targets, such as 95 percent coverage and cost-effective and equitable distribution of this game-changing HPV vaccine for a multi-age cohort. The country aims to reach girls in grades 5 to 9 from all types of educational institutions and 10- to 14-year-old adolescent girls from communities, including those who are homeless or who are out of school.

The EPI aligned these targets with the goals of the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, of vaccinating 86 million girls and adolescents by 2025, as well as with the WHO’s target of fully vaccinating 90 percent of 15-year-old girls as part of the global strategy of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030.

Eligible girls in Bangladesh will register to receive the vaccine through a new online registration system. Earlier, this vaccine-friendly country successfully implemented the COVID-19 vaccination campaign through an online registration process for its citizens, so implementing this new method is expected to go smoothly.

Prevention through partnership

At the October 2 launch event, the EPI Bangladesh Program Manager, Dr. S. M. Abdullah Al Murad, presented the background and reasoning for the HPV vaccination campaign and described the extensive training that health workers across the Dhaka division received on administering the vaccine. Teachers, parents, religious leaders, and community-based organizations are being engaged as well through inter-ministerial approaches to ensure that no girl will be missed.

“I call on all the eligible girls to take the HPV vaccine by completing online vaccine registration…As one of the few vaccine-preventable cancers, the HPV vaccine is one of the most important.”
— Dr. S. M. Abdullah Al Murad, Program Manager, Bangladesh EPI

Officials from the country’s Management Information System under the Directorate General of Health Service demonstrated the online-based vaccine registration process in front of distinguished guests and journalists. As part of the celebratory event, 14 schoolgirls from the Dhaka division received the HPV vaccine at the launching ceremony.

Supported in part by the HPV Vaccine Acceleration Program Partners Initiative (HAPPI) Consortium (led by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc.), PATH is proud to have been part of the collaborative effort to introduce the HPV vaccine in Bangladesh alongside Gavi, WHO, and UNICEF.

We offer our sincere congratulations to the Government of Bangladesh for demonstrating its commitment to preventing cervical cancer and improving women’s health through this noble initiative.