Every two minutes a woman somewhere in the world loses her life to cervical cancer, according to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). Sadly, millions of girls and women in low- and middle-income countries are vulnerable to cervical cancer because they cannot access the proper vaccinations to prevent transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV). This is hard to accept, because a simple vaccination to prevent HPV, which is a common sexually transmitted disease that causes virtually all forms of cervical cancer, would alleviate 70 percent of cervical cancer cancers.
Luckily, things may be changing. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the nonprofit GAVI Alliance, a record-low price for HPV vaccines has been achieved, representing a major step in the fight against cervical cancer.
So, why do this? Limited access to screenings, vaccinations and treatment leads to the death of approximately 275,000 women each year – 85 percent of which live in developing countries. To address this growing health issue, two leading vaccine producers have cut the prices of their HPV vaccinations to under $5, paving the way for a significant advance in women’s global health, thanks to expanded access. In developed countries today, the same vaccinations that will soon be available to women in developing countries can cost more than $100 per dose with the lowest public sector cost of $13 per dose. With more affordable resources at their disposal, however, developing countries will take another step in limiting the growing cancer burden by preventing the infection that causes the disease.
The GAVI Alliance, along with procurement and distribution partners, will move quickly to deliver the HPV vaccines to eight countries, including Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and the United Republic of Tanzania. Cervical cancer deaths are disproportionately greater particularly in sub-Saharan African countries, due to contributing factors such as high rates of HIV infection and fertility.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation works with GAVI, Union for International Cancer Control and others around the world to achieve just these types of breakthroughs and open up access to critical vaccines and treatments for vulnerable populations. In addition, we work diligently to break down the stigmas surrounding cancer, so people don’t deny themselves this access because of cultural concerns.
This recent news is a validation that greater access to cancer prevention is possible with local, national and international partnership and collaboration. And it marks a major step forward in helping all women receive access to screening against cervical cancer, no matter where they are born. The Foundation will continue to work to achieve breakthroughs that improve access, break down stigmas and ultimately save lives from deadly forms of cancer.