Representatives of UNFPA and MSD sign a technical collaboration.
The UNFPA and pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) on July 24 signed an agreement focusing on rolling out a HPV vaccination programme in Vietnam in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and 5 provinces that allocate budget: Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa, Can Tho and Dong Thap.
The HPV virus is well-established as the main cause of cervical cancer. In Vietnam cervical cancer ranks as the third most common cancer in women of child bearing age. About 4,177 new cases were established and 2,420 women died from cervical cancer in 2018; that is 7 tragic deaths per day.
Scientific-evidence indicates that a strategic combination of sufficient coverage of HPV vaccinations for adolescent girls, sufficient coverage of cervical screening and appropriate treatment for all women can eventually eliminate this form of cancer. Vaccination of girls before they are sexually active is therefore of utmost importance.
With a total budget of USD400,000 for three years from 2019 to 2021, the collaboration aims to generate quality evidence to inform the development of policies and programmes that address the reduction of the burden of HPV-related diseases and facilitate the scale up of an HPV vaccination programme in Vietnam in alignment with the priorities of the local health authorities; to conduct evidence-based advocacy to encourage relevant national and sub-national stakeholders to address reduction of the burden of HPV-related diseases, including facilitating the gradual scale up of an HPV vaccination programme; to support the creation a national road map on HPV vaccination in Vietnam.
Koen Carel Kruijtbosch, Chief Representative, MSD in Vietnam said: "Developing vaccines that help protect public health is more than a business decision; it is a shared mission. MSD is well-positioned to continue doing what we have done well over the past 130 years – inventing for life - bringing forward medicines and vaccines to address many of the world's most challenging diseases. We believe we have a role and responsibility to help ensure the right vaccines reach those who need them. Every day in Vietnam seven women die from cervical cancer. This partnership between the UNFPA and MSD hopes to address this disease burden."
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Prevention and early treatment are also highly cost-effective.
"Evidence from international studies also confirm that a strategic combination of sufficient coverage of HPV vaccination for adolescent girls and sufficient coverage of cervical screening and appropriate treatment for all women can eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem within our lifetime," said Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam at the signing ceremony.
UNFPA and MSD are fully committed to support the Government of Vietnam and its partners in rolling out HPV vaccination in the country. "No husband should lose a wife, no sibling should lose a sister, no parents should lose a daughter and no child should lose a mother," concluded Bant at the event./.