HPV Call to Action launched today in Nairobi

July 6, 2007 at 9:08 am (Alex's Posts)

Today at the International Women’s Summit in Nairobi, a coalition of 13 high-profile public health organizations launched a call to action for increased access to prevention and treatment of cervical cancer, particularly in the developing world.  To learn more, or sign on as a supporter of the call, you can go to www.cervicalcanceraction.org. Text of the call below.


The Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer 


We believe the world has a historic opportunity to ensure that life-saving new technologies to prevent cervical cancer reach women and girls around the world without delay, because:


We are aware that cervical cancer, a disease caused by infection with some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), affects half a million women globally every year.

We are concerned that, globally, more than a quarter of a million women die from cervical cancer every year.

We acknowledge that due to gross disparities between wealthy and poor countries in access to screening and treatment, more than 80% of the cases and deaths from cervical cancer occur in developing countries, making it the most common cancer-related cause of death for women in these countries.

We are encouraged by powerful new tools that have the potential to significantly reduce the burden of cervical cancer around the world, improve reproductive health, and save millions of women’s lives. These include new HPV vaccines that protect girls and young women against the high-risk types of HPV and new HPV screening technologies that are both more accurate and more appropriate for women in low-resource settings.

We recognize that only a comprehensive prevention strategy that pairs cervical cancer vaccination with screening and treatment programs will reverse the threat of cervical cancer to women and girls worldwide.

We know that extraordinary action will be required to give women and girls everywhere, particularly in developing countries, rapid access to these powerful, life-saving technologies.

Therefore, we call for the commitment and action necessary for women and girls around the world to have equal access to the highest quality prevention and treatment options for cervical cancer. Specifically, we call on:

  • Governments to prioritize cervical cancer in their national development and health programs and ensure that the necessary political and financial commitments are made and sustained.
  • Multilateral agencies to provide leadership and maximize their contribution to the necessary processes, including rapid prequalification, that will ensure widespread availability of HPV vaccines and other primary and secondary prevention technologies.
  • The international donor community and development partners to pledge the necessary financial resources so that these new technologies are made available to those who need them most.
  • Medical professionals to educate themselves and their patients about the life-saving innovations available.
  • Industry to provide adequate supplies of these new technologies at radically tiered prices.
  • Civil society to come together to build partnerships and catalyze global action.



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Circumcision cuts the risk of HIV infection

December 13, 2006 at 3:54 pm (Alex's Posts)

Huge AIDS news today, picked up all over the world – male circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV by about 50%, as shown by two large-scale clinical trials in Africa.  The outcomes were so decisive that the studies were stopped midway through. Read the Reuters story here.  Stay tuned for reactions from the NGO community and governments, especially the American administration.

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Melinda Gates speaks

December 11, 2006 at 4:29 pm (Alex's Posts)

This interview with Melinda Gates in today’s Wall Street Journal is interesting for those who are curious about priority-setting at the Gates Foundation.  I thought it was especially interesting, in her answer to the sixth question down, the way she mentioned the copper mining industry in Zambia as a partner in malaria control.  No doubt they are an essential partner, but it makes me wonder what the mining industry is like there, and if certain “compromises” are being made for the sake of the success of their Zambia program…

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Funding two global killers

December 6, 2006 at 11:25 am (Alex's Posts)

All the recent discussion of vaccines is very timely, given GAVI’s recent announcement that it will begin funding pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines.  This announcement has been heralded throughout the international public health community as long overdue, and will hopefully mean a significant scale-up in efforts to vaccinate children against these diseases, responsible for over a million and a half deaths annually, almost entirely in the developing world.

Though I know less about rotavirus, it continues to amaze me that pneumococcal disease (which manifests itself in a variety of ways, from simple ear infections to deadly pneumonia and meningitis) doesn’t get more play in the international media.  It kills more kids than malaria, long considered the greatest scourge affecting children in the global South, and many, many more than HIV.  And the vaccine that’s currently available is very expensive and not entirely appropriate for the developing world – it was developed for a Western, industrialized-country market, and doesn’t cover many of the strains that cause the most death and disease.

And yet, it’s something.  Hopefully, we’re seeing the public health community and the world wake up to this disease, and to the fact that there’s something to be done about it.  A new, more appropriate vaccine will hopefully be ready soon (there are a couple in the works), and let’s hope it’s big news when it is. 

(In the meantime, those seeking to learn more should read this rather fun and entertaining NY Times article on Orin Levine, the director of the PneumoADIP, who’s a big voice on pneumo vaccines and just a generally nice guy.  You have to register, but it’s free.)

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A frustrating day for the global health community

November 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm (Alex's Posts, Links)

Today, at their long-anticipated meeting in Guatemala, the Global Fund board neglected to elect a successor to Executive Director Richard Feachem. There’s been a lot written about this elsewhere, so I’ll direct people to the Center for Global Development for more info.

In the environment in which I work, this is an important issue, and an interesting one, because of the unique structure of the Global Fund board, which requires a high degree of consensus for the election of ED candidates and encompasses a wide range of stakeholders, from endemic country representatives to private pharma. And clearly, it’s ultimately important to everyone working in global health, as this organization is one of the major sources of funding for all AIDS, TB and malaria program throughout the world (along with the US, UK and Gates Foundation.)

But in the context of this community here, I find myself asking, is anyone else even paying attention? If you’re not an activist or a policymaker, will you ever even read the press release? Did you even know the name of the old Global Fund ED? I’ve found myself thinking about the different reaches and priorities of different players in the global health community in many different contexts over the past year or so, as I at once study to enter medical school and work on advocacy efforts targeted toward policymakers who may not even know what the word “falciparum” means. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and makes one wonder what the “global health community” even really refers to.

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