GAVI Newsroom

Professional
video library

Girls in developing countries to be protected against cervical cancer

09 May 2013


Historic agreements show power of innovative public-private partnership


CAPE TOWN / GENEVA, 9 May 2013 - A new record low price for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines will help ensure millions of girls in developing countries can be protected against cervical cancer.


Thanks to the GAVI Alliance, the poorest countries will now have access to a sustainable supply of HPV vaccines for as low as US$4.50 per dose. The same vaccines can cost more than $100 in developed countries and the previous lowest public sector price was $13 per dose.

HPV vaccines are primarily available as part of routine immunisation to girls in relatively wealthy countries. And yet of the 275,000 women in the world who die of cervical cancer every year, more than 85% are in low-income countries, where the incidence of HPV infection is higher and few women have access to screening and treatment.


"A vast health gap currently exists between girls in rich and poor countries. With GAVI's programmes we can begin to bridge that gap so that all girls can be protected against cervical cancer no matter where they are born," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. "By 2020 we hope to reach more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries. This is a transformational moment for the health of women and girls across the world. We thank the manufacturers for working with us to help make this happen."


Today's announcement was made possible through GAVI's innovative public-private partnership model, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2000 to meet the challenges of getting vaccines out to some of the least wealthy developing countries. GAVI's recent market shaping activities have also achieved significant reductions for pentavalent and rotavirus vaccines while simultaneously helping to create healthier and more secure markets for vaccines.


GAVI will begin support for HPV vaccines in Kenya as early as this month followed by Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and the United Republic of Tanzania.


As these demonstration programmes reach pre-adolescents - a group not currently targeted for immunisation -- they will give each country the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to put in place the systems needed to run national programmes. GAVI will also support HPV vaccines for nationwide use in Rwanda next year. The immunisation of girls aged nine to 13 also provides an opportunity to reach adolescents with education programmes on nutrition, sexual health and HIV prevention.


As well as bringing down dramatically the price of the HPV vaccines, GAVI has also helped to halve the time lag that can exist in getting new vaccines out to poor countries, down to just six years.


Since GAVI began accepting applications for HPV vaccines support in 2012 it has received unprecedented demand, with 15 countries applying last year and a further 15 to 20 expected this year.


"Developing countries bear an increasing burden of cervical cancer and it is only right that our girls should have the same protection as girls in other countries," said Dr Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the East African Community, GAVI Board member and former Health Minister of Rwanda. "In Africa, where facilities to diagnose and treat cervical cancer are few and far between, HPV vaccines will mean the difference between life and death for so many women in the prime of their lives."


"Vaccinating girls against HPV can be a key component of a national strategy to prevent and control cervical cancer across a woman's life course," said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at the World Health Organization. "This new price reduction is a great step forward for women and girls: we look forward to working with countries to incorporate the HPV vaccine into their national immunisation programmes."


UNICEF as procurement partner for the GAVI Alliance have run a public tender process and will now purchase HPV vaccines from Merck & Co. at $4.50 per dose and from GlaxoSmithKline at $4.60 per dose for the award period, 2013-2017. Additionally, Merck has agreed to extend significantly lower prices to GAVI if total volumes increase in the future.


The market shaping efforts of the GAVI Alliance work to address market failures for vaccines by aggregating volume, increasing certainty of demand, stimulating competition where possible and ensuring that a sufficient quantity of appropriate, quality vaccines is available through a diverse manufacturer base at affordable and sustainable prices.


With this price agreement now in place the GAVI Alliance Secretariat will work with partners to implement the GAVI HPV Vaccine Programme. Among stakeholders involved are the World Health Organization, PATH, UNICEF, UNFPA, National Cancer Institute, World Bank, Union for International Cancer Control, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, UNAIDS, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the US Centers for Disease Control.

# # #


Quote Sheet


"Thanks to the work of the GAVI Alliance, young women who could have been infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes deadly cervical cancer are now going to be vaccinated against it. I am proud of the Bush Institute's Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon collaboration with GAVI that will help to make cervical cancer a disease of the past." - Laura Bush, Former US First Lady


"It breaks my heart to see lives cut short due to ailments. In Africa these losses happen often and deprive our societies. It's about time proper healthcare is administered for all, especially the future generation. GAVI is making this possible by pioneering the administration of the HPV vaccine. Giving my younger sisters a chance - that's one less killer to worry about." - Vanessa Mdee, MTV Africa VJ, Tanzania
"Vaccines represent enormous value for money in aid spending, because they massively reduce mortality and costly disease burden. It's fantastic to see the HPV vaccine rolled out in so many countries, thanks to the support of GAVI and the Australian Government."- Professor Ian Frazer, creator of the HPV vaccine


"Looking back, when the Hepatitis B vaccine was launched, many said it was too expensive and out of reach of developing countries. The price dropped dramatically and it is now in the routine immunisation programmes of most counties around the world, reducing the risk of liver cancer for millions of people. Now, thanks to GAVI and its partners, the HPV vaccine has also become more affordable to poorer countries, having dropped to $4.50 per dose. This critical step towards preventing cervical cancer is even more timely with the recent inclusion of vaccination against HPV in the draft WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases." - Cary Adams, CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control.


"One of the biggest tragedies about cervical cancer is that it is largely preventable. In the US, many women have access to HPV vaccines that help prevent cervical cancer, and screening and treatment. Today, few women in the US die from the disease. But in Africa and other parts of the developing world, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. African women often don't have access to cancer screening and treatment, and HPV vaccines are either not available or are too expensive. Where you live should not determine whether you survive cervical cancer. Cancer should not be about where you are born. Last year, GAVI's decision to provide HPV vaccine support to poorer countries was a major step forward in making HPV vaccines available to girls living in developing countries. Now, the announcement of a record low vaccine price makes the vaccine more affordable. Tens of millions of girls across sub-Saharan Africa will be vaccinated, offering hope of a future free from cervical cancer." - Dr John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society


"Cervical cancer is an issue that I feel very strongly about, and I'm really looking forward to seeing developing countries getting access to HPV vaccines. When you look at the cancer burden in developing countries, especially in Africa, it's clear we cannot withstand a cancer epidemic. So we really must do something, and this is why I am so happy that GAVI has invested so much in the provision of HPV vaccine. This is really going to shift the burden of cancer deaths away from the developing countries and perhaps even put it on par with developed countries." - Christine Kaseba, First Lady Zambia

 

(Video 1 - Vaccines B-roll)
(Video 2 - Soundbites, including Dr Agnes Binagwaho, Health Minister of Rwanda)
(Video 3 - Hospitals and patients)
(Video 4 - Girls to be immunised)

 

Notes to Editors


HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is extremely common and the cause of virtually all forms of cervical cancer. Immunising girls before sexual initiation - and before exposure to HPV infection - is a key strategy to preventing cervical cancer. By protecting against the most common strains of the virus, HPV vaccines can prevent up to 70% of cervical cancer cases. The introduction of HPV vaccines in developing countries also provides a window of opportunity to strengthen other adolescent health services, exploiting synergies with improving nutrition, HIV prevention, and sexual and reproductive health.


GAVI Alliance
The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries. The Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. GAVI uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, GAVI has financed the immunisation of an additional 370 million children and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths. Learn more at www.gavialliance.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


GAVI is funded by governments [Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States], the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as private and corporate partners [Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children's Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, Dutch Postcode Lottery, His Highness Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, JP Morgan, "la Caixa" Foundation, LDS Charities and Vodafone].
For more information, visit www.gavialliance.org


Media requests:
Dan Thomas (in Geneva / Cape Town)
+41 79 251 8581 mobile
dthomas@gavialliance.org
Dominique de Santis (in Cape Town)
+41 79 758 1658 mobile
ddesant-external-consultant@gavialliance.org
Duncan Graham-Rowe (in Geneva)
+41 22 909 7104 office
+41 79 349 6971 mobile dgrahamrowe@gavialliance.org
GAVI photos and video B-roll - free to use but please credit GAVI Alliance:
www.gavivideo.org


« Back