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?
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.