Kenya becomes first country to protect girls with GAVI-supported HPV vaccines

On Tuesday, Kenya became the first country to use GAVI Alliance-supported vaccines to protect girls against cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus.

Kenya is the first of seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that will receive GAVI's support for HPV prevention projects. The demonstration projects will give the countries the opportunities to explore multiple ways to deliver HPV vaccines and allow the countries to make informed decisions before applying for national introduction.

"This is an important moment for Kenyan women, as cervical cancer kills more Kenyan women than any other cancer," Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said. "Working closely with partners (World Health Organization) and UNICEF, GAVI's support for HPV vaccines is bridging the gap between rich and poor countries, enabling HPV vaccines to reach girls no matter where they live."

Kenya and the GAVI Alliance will provide HPV vaccinations to close to 20,000 girls in primary schools and health education on HPV and cervical cancer to both girls and boys.

The WHO estimates that every year in Kenya more than half of the 2,500 women diagnosed with cervical cancer die from the disease. If efforts are not made to control the disease, experts estimate the number of women dying from cervical cancer will double by 2025.

The HPV demonstration project in Kenya will be followed by others in the United Republic of Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Niger, Malawi, Madagascar, Lao PDR and Ghana. GAVI anticipates that more than 30 million girls in more than 40 of the world's poorest countries will receive HPV immunizations by 2020.