Rwanda on track to be the first country to eradicate cervical cancer
May 15, 2019 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Rwandan women (Modern Ghana), and there were considerable cultural barriers to the vaccination programme – HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and talking about sex is taboo in Rwanda. Added to this, rumours that the vaccine could cause infertility made some parents reluctant to allow their daughters to be vaccinated. Rwanda’s economy and history also made it seem an improbable candidate for achieving high HPV vaccination coverage (WHO). High-income countries had only achieved moderate coverage of the HPV vaccine (The Lancet). How Rwanda could be the first country to wipe out cervical cancer (Mosaic Science)
More than 800,000 people died in the Rwandan genocide, and its widespread destruction left the country devastated. Coverage of most World Health Organization-recommended childhood vaccinations plummeted to below 25 per cent. But within 20 years, the number of babies in Rwanda receiving all recommended vaccinations, such as polio, measles and rubella, had increased to around 95 per cent. Rwandans’ life expectancy more than doubled between 1995 and 2011. The Rwandan government had demonstrated the determination and thoroughness of its approach to vaccinations. Could it now have the same success with HPV?
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Rwanda has proved to the world that it can achieve excellent HPV vaccination coverage. The Ministry of Health reports that 93 per cent of girls now receive the vaccine.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
This totally needs a #FeelGoodFilter tag!
posted by hippybear at 8:40 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Rwanda’s economy and history... made it seem an improbable candidate...

The thing, though, is that the genocide killed off so many men that Rwanda now has the highest % of women in its government of any country in the world. About 64%, more than three times the global average.

If more countries had more women in charge, the health (and education, and other good things) statistics most likely would improve dramatically worldwide.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:49 PM on May 15 [30 favorites]


What an inspiring article. This is an amazing example of how government can improve life. Why is it so rare? Does it take such a huge tragedy to get people to overcome differences and do what’s best for their people?
posted by greermahoney at 9:15 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I vote for getting every country to having women comprise 64% of their governments and then going from that as a baseline for further studies, if necessary.
posted by hippybear at 9:20 PM on May 15 [10 favorites]


What a wonderful, enviable achievement!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 10:52 PM on May 15


And this (the University of Global Health Equity) is part of the story too, promising future expansion of healthcare access on the basis of public institutions. Rwandans have been through hell, their present conditions aren't perfect either, but they are doing something important and right.
posted by homerica at 12:32 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


> the genocide killed off so many men that Rwanda now has the highest % of women in its government of any country in the world. About 64%, more than three times the global average.

My feelings about this are dangerously close to #ThanosWasRight territory. But wow have men made a mess of running things so far.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:57 AM on May 16


Thanks for posting. This is a good thing and we really need some good news. Also, vaccination works really well and is cause for celebration.
posted by theora55 at 9:08 AM on May 16


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