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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Global challenges of implementing human papillomavirus vaccines

Janice E Graham1 and Amrita Mishra2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University, Faculty of Medicine, 1459 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada

2 Technoscience and Regulation Research Unit, 1459 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada

International Journal for Equity in Health 2011, 10:27  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-27

Published: 30 June 2011

Abstract

Human Papillomavirus vaccines are widely hailed as a sweeping pharmaceutical innovation for the universal benefit of all women. The implementation of the vaccines, however, is far from universal or equitable. Socio-economically marginalized women in emerging and developing, and many advanced economies alike, suffer a disproportionately large burden of cervical cancer. Despite the marketing of Human Papillomavirus vaccines as the solution to cervical cancer, the market authorization (licensing) of the vaccines has not translated into universal equitable access. Vaccine implementation for vulnerable girls and women faces multiple barriers that include high vaccine costs, inadequate delivery infrastructure, and lack of community engagement to generate awareness about cervical cancer and early screening tools. For Human Papillomavirus vaccines to work as a public health solution, the quality-assured delivery of cheaper vaccines must be integrated with strengthened capacity for community-based health education and screening.

Keywords:
Human Papillomavirus; cervical cancer; vaccine; immunization; equity; gender