News / Health

Laos HPV Vaccine Campaign Aims to Curb Cervical Cancer

FILE - Gardasil, a Human Papillomavirus vaccine.
FILE - Gardasil, a Human Papillomavirus vaccine.
Ron Corben
One of the world’s leading immunization groups is launching a new program aimed at vaccinating girls in Laos against human papillomavirus, or HPV, to curb rising rates of cervical cancer. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) said developing countries in South East Asia, such as Laos and Burma, still face major challenges in implementing vaccination programs.
                        
The three-injection vaccination costs about $120 per shot in the United States and is typically given to girls nine to 13 years old.
 
In Laos, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has been able to reduce the cost to less than $5 per shot, making it feasible to protect women against the virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
 
In Laos about 500 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer triggered by HPV. As many as half of them are expected to die from the cancer.
 
GAVI Alliance deputy chief executive Helen Evans said the HPV vaccination project being launched this week in Laos follows other programs in place in Africa and South Asia.  "This is a vaccine that's incredibly effective and can prevent about 70 percent of the cancers," she explained. "And as I said, cervical cancer is becoming the number one killer of women so ironically as maternal mortality is dropping because of other interventions, deaths from women in child bearing age, parenting age, is rising."
 
According to data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), Laos has a maternal mortality rate more than double the global average.
 
Laos is one of several countries that qualify for assistance from the GAVI Alliance. The alliance brings together developing countries and donor governments, WHO, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Bank, the vaccine industry and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
Since its launch in 2000, the group has helped support the immunization of some 370 million children in developing countries, and helped  prevent more than 5.5 million future deaths from diseases such as Hepatitis B, influenza, measles, whooping cough, rotavirus and polio.
 
GAVI's Helen Evans in South East Asia said logistical problems and other issues remain a challenge for health policy makers.  "Vaccination is perhaps the best investment a country can make in their children's health. Healthy children are able to take the benefit of education, they grow up to be adults, productive adults, so its poverty reduction, its social economic development investment," she said.
 
Indonesia and Burma face challenges in vaccine delivery despite recent progress. Indonesia’s five million annual births, spread over the country’s 6,000 islands, make it difficult to carry out comprehensive vaccinations.
 
In Indonesia, GAVI partnered with a local pharmaceutical company to produce a pentavalent vaccination that protects children against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis and influenza.
 
Evans said Burma is still adjusting to an outpouring of international assistance following its political reforms. Its health budget, long neglected under past military-led governments, has been substantially increased. She added that the challenge for Burma now is to ensure that local staff are effectively trained to immunize.
 
Evans said workers are also trying to conduct health surveys in often remote and difficult regions to successfully target future immunization needs.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs