Zambia – HPV Vaccines for All

Posted by On April 25, 2016
Written By Erica Asante, MPH generic-banner-large This week, we recognize World Immunization Week. Immunizations have been cited as one the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century[i]. According to the World Health Organization, two-to- three million deaths are averted annually due to vaccines[ii].  There are a number of vaccine-preventable diseases, but only two are linked to cancer – Hepatitis B, which is the leading cause of liver cancer and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer.  HPV causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. 528,000 new cases of cervical cancer are identified and reported worldwide each year, of which 85% are in developing nations. 266,0000 women succumb to the disease, of which 87% occur in developing nations[iii]. Zambia has one of the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world, with an incidence rate of 52.8 per 100,000 women[iv]. The Government’s commitment to reducing the burden is clear. In 2006, the Government of Zambia launched one of the most robust cervical cancer screening and treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa called the Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme in Zambia (CCPPZ). CCPPZ has been supported by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon since 2011, and in 2013 when the country launched the first of three HPV Vaccination demonstrations, Merck through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon donated 180,000 vaccines which have been used in all three rounds of the demonstration program in 2013, 2014 and the on-going, to be completed in May 2016. A total of 33,733 girls have received the full dose regimen of the HPV vaccine. An additional 30,000 vaccines are being donated by Merck through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon to conclude the third round demonstration. With the country’s experience in delivering the HPV vaccine to girls ages 9-13, Zambia is now ready to prepare an application to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance to support the nationwide introduction of the HPV vaccination by 2018. During the last week of March, key stakeholders convened by the Ministry of Health’s Expanded Programme Immunization unit came together to review lessons learned, best practices, challenges, current needs and gaps of the past and current demonstration program to inform decisions about what national introduction of the vaccination could look like. The meeting was facilitated by PATH, who provided guidance to stakeholders on the key aspects of a potentially successful application to GAVI. One key to success highlighted by the facilitator is the need for the process of application development to be country led. If it is country led, it will be country owned. Over the next few months, as Zambia prepares their application for submission to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, we at Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon wish our oldest country partner the best and look forward to working with Zambia on nationwide HPV vaccination rollout. [i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ten Great Public Health Achievements.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60 (19) (2011): 619-623. Web. 13 April. 2016. [ii] World Health Organization. “Fact Sheet: Immunization Coverage.” WHO Fact Sheet (2016): Web. 13 April. 2016. [iii] Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from:, accessed 18/April/2016. [iv] Parham, Groesbeck P et al. “Implementation of Cervical Cancer Prevention Services for HIV-Infected Women in Zambia: Measuring Program Effectiveness.” HIV therapy 4.6 (2010): 703–722. PMC. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.   Erica is a Country Program Manager for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.