A Global Initiative To End Cervical Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

A coalition of 13 civil society and public health organizations on Friday at the World YWCA International Women's Summitin Nairobi, Kenya, announced the launch of a new initiative that aimsto ensure every woman and girl has access to human papillomavirusvaccines, as well as cervical cancer screening and treatment, the Accra Daily Mail reports.

About500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, and about80% of the cases and deaths are among women in developing countriesbecause of limited screening and treatment, according to the Daily Mail. Organizers of the initiative, called the Global Call To Stop Cervical Cancer,are calling on governments to make cervical cancer a priority innational development and health budgets; multilateral agencies toaccelerate regulatory processes for treatments; international donors toensure that new vaccines and diagnostics are widely accessible; andbusinesses to provide low-cost supplies of new technologies.

According to the Daily Mail, GlobalCall organizers launched the campaign at an HIV/AIDS-focused conferenceto encourage HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer advocates to collaborate onstrategies to expand access to prevention and treatment. HIV-positivewomen are about four times as likely as HIV-negative women to developprecancerous lesions that can lead to cervical cancer, the Daily Mail reports (Accra Daily Mail,7/10). About 77% of HIV-positive women also are infected with HPV,according to Florence Manguyu, senior policy adviser for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

HPV Vaccine Delivery

According to Kenya's Daily Nation,ongoing studies in Uganda, Peru, India and Vietnam examining bestpractices for delivering HPV vaccines might be presented to HPV vaccinemanufacturers for price reductions (Gathura, Daily Nation, 7/10). The global health group PATH in June 2006 launched a five-year program that is using a $27.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationto conduct research in the four countries about ways to reducepotential hurdles for distribution of HPV vaccines in developingcountries (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 4/5).


Merck's FDA approvedHPV vaccine Gardasil in clinical trials has been shown to be 100%effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, whichtogether cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases, and about 99%effective in preventing HPV strains 6 and 11, which together with HPVstrains 16 and 18 cause about 90% of genital wart cases, among womennot already infected with these strains. GlaxoSmithKline'sHPV vaccine Cervarix, which has been approved in Australia and is underreview by FDA, also has shown to be 100% effective in preventinginfection with HPV strains 16 and 18. According to preliminary datafrom a Phase III clinical trial, published last month in the journal Lancet,Cervarix also provided significant protection against HPV strains 31,45 and 52, which together account for about 12% of cervical cancercases (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/10).


"The world cannot afford to wait for new HPV vaccines and screeningtests to eventually trickle down from wealthy countries to developingcountries where women need these lifesaving products," ArielPablos-Mendez, a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation, said, adding, "Cervical cancer is largely preventable, so we must not let women die for want of access to these products."

BettyTett, chair of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, said,"Cervical cancer is entirely preventable, so it is unacceptable thatwomen in developing countries do not have access to new innovations inpreventing and treating this disease," adding, "Political leaders mustprioritize cervical cancer to ensure that all women, no matter how richor poor, have access to new medical technologies that can save theirlives" (Accra Daily Mail, 7/10).

France To Reimburse 65% of Gardasil's Cost

In related news, Sanofi Pasteur,a joint company of Merck and Sanofi-Aventis, on Wednesday said that 65%of the cost of Gardasil will be reimbursed for all 14-year-old girls inFrance, Reuters reports.Reimbursements also will be given to girls and women ages 15 to 23 whohave not had sex or who started having sex in the year prior tovaccination. Gardasil, which is administered in three doses, will cost135.59 euros, or about $186.40, per dose in France (Reuters,7/11). Australia, Germany and Italy also have offered similarreimbursements for Gardasil, and several other European Union countriesare expected to do so, Dow Jones reports (Berton, Dow Jones, 7/11).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.