Summary by Toun Olateju, MD, MPH
Vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection which causes more than 70 percent of cervical cancer, is the primary preventative measure for cervical cancer, especially when administered before the debut of sexual activity. As recommended by the World Health Organization, the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of 9 and 13, prior to exposure to HPV.
With support from Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, the Ministry of Health of Botswana set up a multidisciplinary team comprised of Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and key stakeholders, to conduct two HPV vaccination demonstration programs in 2013 and 2014. The first demonstration program was implemented in Molepolole in 2013 and a second demonstration program expanded to Selebi-Phikwe in 2014. Over the two-year period, 8,357 girls were vaccinated. In 2015, following the successful completion and positive outcome of these demonstration programs, the Government of Botswana introduced the HPV vaccination nationally for all girls between the ages of 9 to 13. Between February and April 2015, 68,304 girls (98 percent) out of a targeted 69,852 girls in the country received the first dose of the recently adopted two-dose regimen. The second dose of the national HPV vaccination is ongoing.
Botswana’s progress from two demonstration programs to national roll-out offers a model for resource-constrained countries seeking to scale-up their HPV vaccination programs.
To learn more about Botswana’s positive experience with HPV vaccination demonstration programs that informed the progress to nation-wide roll-out, read the full article in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Coverage Among School Girls in a Demonstration Project – Botswana, 2013.
Raesima, Mmakgomo M. et al. “Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Coverage Among School Girls in a Demonstration Project – Botswana, 2013” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64:40 (2015). Web. 16 October 2015.
Toun is a Manager of Country Programs for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.