Women Deliver 2013 - Investing in vaccines for girls

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Senegal’s Health Minister and Zambian First Lady welcome investment in vaccines against the main causes of cervical cancer and Congenital Rubella Syndrome

Kuala Lumpur, 28 May 2013 – Two of Africa’s strongest advocates for women’s health joined forces at the Women Deliver conference on Tuesday to highlight investments being made in two life-saving vaccines that will protect young girls in developing countries from cervical cancer and Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).

Speaking at the session on ”Investing in Vaccines for Girls”, co-hosted by the GAVI Alliance and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Senegal’s Health Minister Dr Awa Coll-Seck and the First Lady of Zambia Dr Christine Kaseba Sata congratulated GAVI and developing countries on their support for the human papillomavirus and rubella vaccines.

Measles-Rubella vaccine

Dr Awa Coll-Seck singled out GAVI for its 2013 decision to fund the introduction of rubella vaccines against CRS. Senegal is one of six countries that will introduce the combined measles-rubella vaccine through vaccination campaigns before the end of this year.

“If we are to stop the transmission of rubella, we need to get the population immunity up,” said GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley.

Zambia HPV vaccine launch

Zambia’s First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba Sata announced that Zambia had launched the HPV vaccine against the main cause of cervical cancer on Monday, administering the first doses to 400 girls in one district.

“We had to invest in the infrastructure – improve the cold chain and health services – in order to roll out the vaccines, and this has been a success,” she said. The vaccines are being rolled out with a donation from Merck & Co.

Full package of vaccines

Dr Berkley emphasised that young girls must not only be protected against HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer, but should have access to the other 11 vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization. Currently, only 3-4% of girls worldwide receive the full package of vaccines.

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