Eswatini's Fight Against Cervical Cancer Receives $1.6M Boost from GAVI


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter

Map showing the location of Eswatini in Southern Africa

Map showing the location of Eswatini in Southern Africa



MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2024: In a significant step towards combating the high burden of cervical cancer in Eswatini, the country has received a $1.6 million grant from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the introduction and scale-up of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.


Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), a landlocked country in the eastern flank of Southern Africa, has been grappling with a concerning cervical cancer crisis. The country records around 360 new cases each year with one-third of the patients succumbing to the disease due to late detection. Currently, more than 2,000 women are living with cervical cancer in Eswatini, and over 700 cancer-related deaths have been recorded in the past five years.


To address this public health challenge, the Eswatini government launched the HPV vaccination campaign in June 2023, targeting girls aged 9 to 14 years. The HPV vaccine is a powerful tool in the fight against cervical cancer as it is highly effective in preventing the HPV types 16 and 18 which are responsible for around 70% of all cervical cancer cases globally.


Dr. Dalya Elziniy, a representative from Gavi praised Eswatini's efforts in the fight against cervical cancer stating, "Its effectiveness can't be overstated. GAVI is honored to support countries to fight cancer. Eswatini is a champion among the middle-income countries for taking such strong steps and making a commitment to fight cancer."


The GAVI grant will help Eswatini strengthen and sustain its HPV vaccination program with the aim of increasing coverage and protecting more girls and women from the devastating effects of cervical cancer. The Minister of Health, Mduduzi Matesebula, emphasized the government's commitment to the program, stating, "The aim of the partnership is to strengthen and sustain the HPV program to increase coverage. We appreciate the support by GAVI and hope it will be extended beyond the HPV vaccine."


Dr. Susan Tembo, the WHO Representative, further commended Eswatini's leadership in the introduction of new vaccines including the HPV vaccine which aligns with the country's efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3, which focuses on promoting good health and leaving no one behind.


The introduction of the HPV vaccine in Eswatini is a critical step towards reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with cervical cancer among women in the region and globally. This grant from GAVI, combined with the Eswatini government's strong political will and commitment will undoubtedly contribute to the country's wider efforts to combat this pressing public health issue.


Source: World Health Organization Africa Newsroom. 



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Published: April 15, 2024

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