MCD to Launch New HPV Vaccination Campaign in Equatorial Guinea
City of Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
MCD Global Health (MCD) is starting a new phase for its Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment (CCST) project in Equatorial Guinea later this year. Because of the need to guarantee quality cervical cancer screening services and protect future generations, MCD is planning to implement the first-ever vaccination campaign to prevent transmission of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Equatorial Guinea, per guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in women, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths worldwide in 2020.
Nineteen of the top 20 countries with the highest cervical cancer burden worldwide are located in sub-Saharan Africa. While this type of cancer is one of the most preventable, poor access to prevention, screening, and treatment contributes to 90% of deaths, according to the WHO.
Since its implementation, MCD’s CCST project has focused on decreasing the prevalence of cervical cancer among women in Equatorial Guinea through increased detection and treatment of pre-cancerous cells.
From 2016 through 2021, health professionals in six cities throughout the country received training from project staff. Also, MCD’s expert staff and Equatorial Guinea’s National Reproductive Health Program of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare have provided medical assistance to nearly 24,000 women in all provinces, and through visual inspection with acetic acid, more than 660 cases of pre-cancerous lesions were detected; thus, assisting those women in receiving the care they need.
The CCST project has become a pilot for the Central African region in preventing and treating cancer and provides an opportunity to avert excess mortality due to cancer using methods proven to prevent HPV as well as identify and stop the growth of malignant cells at pre-cancerous stages.
With renewed funding from Noble Energy EG Ltd. (a Chevron Company), MCD and the Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Health and Social Welfare are now moving their strategies upstream to primary prevention. Later this year, MCD will begin providing HPV vaccinations to 500 primary school-aged girls between 9 and 13 years old in the cities of Bata and Malabo. The WHO recommends the HPV vaccine for girls in this specific age range before they become sexually active and are potentially exposed to the HPV virus, which is a leading cause of most cervical cancer.
The WHO considers the HPV vaccination for adolescent girls the most cost-effective public health measure against cervical cancer and a key strategy in eliminating cervical cancer as a public health issue.
Providing vaccinations to these 500 girls is expected to have both an immediate and long-term impact on the community. Additionally, this effort will produce data on the prevalence of HPV infection among primary school-aged children, as well as vaccine acceptability which will benefit future vaccination planning efforts.