Merck donates HPV protection vaccine to poor

One million young girls to receive free vaccination

HPV vaccine, Gardasil
HPV vaccine, Gardasil
Merck & Co. announced that it will donate its cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, to inoculate 1 million women in some of the world's poorest countries. Poor nations account for 80 per cent of the 250,000 women killed by cervical cancer every year. Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Pappillioma Virus (HPV) a common sexually transmitted disease. Persistent infection with HPV is responsible for 99 percent of all cervical cancers.

Gardasil Access Program

The announcement was made at a conference organized by the UN Development Fund for Women in Brussels, Belgium and also at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York.

"In the near future, women around the world will not need to worry about themselves or their daughters, sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers succumbing to this disease,"
"Today I would like to add my voice to those demanding that cervical cancer gets the international political recognition it deserves. We are at the threshold of a new era for its prevention," said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. unifem.org

The company said at least 3 million doses of Gardasil are to be distributed over the next five years. The vaccine is given in three shots, spread over six months.

Profit free protection for poor people

The Gardasil Access Program also exists to enable poor countries to vaccinate their people at dramatically lower prices (no profit for Merck). Partnerships with organizations like The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), hopefully will mean that the world's poor will have an equal right to health.

Sources: New Scientist and Merck.com

Related Buzz article and discussion: Cervical cancer vaccine recommended for preteens

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