Cameroon Team Launches First HPV Vaccination Campaign in the West/Central Africa Region
June 10, 2010
Women living with HIV have higher-than-normal rates of infection for human papillomavirus (HPV), a main cause of cervical cancer. In an effort to reduce the future risk of cervical cancer for young women in Cameroon, where the HIV prevalence rate among women aged 15 to 24 is nearly five percent (WHO, UNAIDS, & UNICEF 2008), the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board (CBCHB), the Foundation’s implementing partner in Cameroon, launched the first HPV vaccination campaign in West and Central Africa. The first round of vaccinations was administered in March in the cities of Bamenda and Mutengene.
Following the roll-out of large HPV vaccination campaigns in the United States, the CBCHB’s Women’s Health Program (WHP) explored the possibility of launching a campaign in Cameroon. The WHP, with Foundation support, already provided comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women at six stationary health facilities and a donated mobile clinic, reaching thousands of women in rural areas with family planning support, breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening and treatment, and reproductive tract infection management. Often in short supply, these services are critical for all women, especially those living with HIV.
|A young woman receives her HPV vaccine at a ceremony in Mutengene, Cameroon. (Photo: Eveline Mboh, CBCHB)
Access to the HPV vaccine would allow the WHP to provide a continuum of reproductive health services for young girls and women throughout their lives, vaccinating young women and continuing to screen and treat them as they grow up. Through a donation of Gardasil HPV vaccine from Axios International/Merck Pharmaceuticals for 6,400 girls (with three doses each), the team implemented the inaugural Cameroon HPV vaccination campaign for girls aged 9 to 13. While providing vaccinations, the program will also evaluate vaccine acceptance and cost of implementation, working toward the development of a sustainable national HPV vaccination program through the government.
As part of the campaign, trained health workers educated schools, clinics, churches, and communities, sharing materials about HPV and cervical cancer, and encouraging young women to understand the risks of the virus.
The commencement of the campaign was recognized at a ceremony in the spring in Bamenda. Attendees included Cameroon’s National Cancer Executive Secretary, Professor Doh Anderson, government dignitaries, community stakeholders, and many of the young women and families the campaign is directly supporting. National Fight Against Cancer officials, CBCHB’s Director of Health Services, and pastors spoke to a large crowd about the importance of this campaign. National and local TV and radio stations and newspapers broadcasted the launch widely throughout the country.
CBCHB has been the Foundation’s in-country partner in Cameroon for more than a decade. In that time, the program has experienced tremendous success in providing services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, increasing enrollment of children, women, and families into care and treatment, and expanding comprehensive education and psychosocial support programs available to clients and the communities in 6 out of 10 regions in Cameroon.
Read more about our work in Cameroon