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New Studies on the Cost of HPV Vaccination Programs in Low Income Countries

Article by Doyin Oluwole February 1, 2013 //   3 minute read

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” or so the folk saying goes. Recent studies are beginning to lend evidence as to whether that idiom is true in the case of the cervical cancer control in low income countries. Two studies published on November 13, 2012 shine light on the cost of delivering the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to young adolescent girls aged 9 – 13 years in Tanzania. The studies were published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine and present substantial costs necessary to fund expansion of immunization schemes, yet the authors note that prevention efforts related to cervical cancer are likely less expensive and easier to implement than screening and treatment options for the disease. One study concludes that HPV vaccination programs can be considered cost-effective public health interventions and that school-based HPV vaccination is preferable to age-based vaccination programs. The other study utilizes the World Health Organization (WHO) Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Costing (C4P) tool developed to estimate financial and economic costs associated with a phased, national HPV vaccine roll-out in Tanzania. Particularly because vaccinating girls of this age requires building up new delivery channels, authors of this study conclude that governments need to plan ahead for significant non-vaccine costs (social mobilization; information, education and communication efforts; and service delivery, among others) when forecasting national vaccination efforts. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR) strives to reduce the burden of women’s cancers in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and we are delighted to have HPV vaccine manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline and Merck as members of our innovative public health partnership. Their donations of HPV vaccines to countries through PRRR is an integral part of women’s cancer control efforts in our target countries.

This post was written by Doyin Oluwole, MD, FRCP, the founding Executive Director of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, based at the George W. Bush Institute.

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