The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Government of Senegal, has been introduced into the country's national immunization program. Nearly 200,000 preadolescent girls, aged nine, will be administered this year and another 900,000 girls between the ages of 11 and 14 next year. The first vaccine was administered at a high-level event attended by the First Lady of Senegal accompanied by nine First Ladies and more than ten health ministers from the African continent. UNICEF, WHO and their partners will work to implement the immunization program with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education of Senegal.
"Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in Senegal and one of the leading causes of death among women in the world's poorest countries. This is all the more tragic because in the vast majority of cases, these cancers are entirely preventable. Routine vaccination with the HPV vaccine could end hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. With donor support, Gavi has helped vaccinate more than 1.5 million tweens and teens against cervical cancer in the past three years, but this is just the beginning because most girls in developing countries still do not benefit from this protection. The global health community as a whole needs to mobilize to accelerate universal adoption of this life-saving vaccine, "said Dr. Seth Berkley, Executive Director of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Senegal is the first West African country supported by Gavi to introduce HPV vaccine into its routine immunization program. According to the Global Fund for Cancer Research, the rate of cervical cancer in Senegal is among the 20 highest in the world. Every year, more than 1,200 women die from this disease in the country.
"By offering vaccination against HPV infection, which particularly affects vulnerable women, the Government of Senegal is demonstrating its commitment to equity and its willingness to offer young women in the country the opportunity to better health, "said Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF Representative in Senegal. This initiative provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen collaboration between the health and education sectors in their activities for and with adolescents, especially adolescent girls, "she added. According to the WHO, the prevention of cervical cancer, which accounts for 84% of all HPV-related cancers, should remain the main goal of HPV vaccination. The best way to achieve this goal is to vaccinate young girls before the first sexual intercourse. Combined with regular screening and treatment for precancerous lesions in women over 30, vaccination is an essential tool for the prevention of the approximately 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year. It is recommended that all women screen at least once in their lifetime, between 30 and 49 years of age. With about 311,000 deaths worldwide in 2018, cervical cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women.
As a reminder, it was in 2013 that Gavi Gavi Vaccine Alliance began helping to deploy the HPV vaccine in low- and middle-income countries and to support the health systems involved in the delivery of the HPV vaccine. vaccine. Since then, Gavi has assisted governments in 30 developing countries to pilot projects; the Alliance is now supporting the introduction of the HPV vaccine into routine immunization programs, with the goal of reaching 40 million girls by 2020.
Tabaski Thiam Djighaly