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Mapping HPV Vaccination and Cervical Cancer Screening Practice in the Pacific Region-Strengthening National and Regional Cervical Cancer Prevention

  • Obel, J (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen) ;
  • McKenzie, J (Public Health Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community) ;
  • Buenconsejo-Lum, LE (John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii) ;
  • Durand, AM (Pacific Islands Health Officers Association) ;
  • Ekeroma, A (Pacific Society for Reproductive Health Charitable Trust) ;
  • Souares, Y (Public Health Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community) ;
  • Hoy, D (Public Health Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community) ;
  • Baravilala, W (Asia Pacific Regional Office, United Nations Population Fund) ;
  • Garland, SM (Royal Women's Hospital, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne) ;
  • Kjaer, SK (Unit of Virus, Lifestyle and Genes, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, and Gynecologic Clinic, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen) ;
  • Roth, A (Public Health Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community)
  • Published : 2015.04.29

Abstract

Objective : To provide background information for strengthening cervical cancer prevention in the Pacific by mapping current human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical cancer screening practices, as well as intent and barriers to the introduction and maintenance of national HPV vaccination programmes in the region. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey among ministry of health officials from 21 Pacific Island countries and territories (n=21). Results: Cervical cancer prevention was rated as highly important, but implementation of prevention programs were insufficient, with only two of 21 countries and territories having achieved coverage of cervical cancer screening above 40%. Ten of 21 countries and territories had included HPV vaccination in their immunization schedule, but only two countries reported coverage of HPV vaccination above 60% among the targeted population. Key barriers to the introduction and continuation of HPV vaccination were reported to be: (i) Lack of sustainable financing for HPV vaccine programs; (ii) Lack of visible government endorsement; (iii) Critical public perception of the value and safety of the HPV vaccine; and (iv) Lack of clear guidelines and policies for HPV vaccination. Conclusion: Current practices to prevent cervical cancer in the Pacific Region do not match the high burden of disease from cervical cancer. A regional approach, including reducing vaccine prices by bulk purchase of vaccine, technical support for implementation of prevention programs, operational research and advocacy could strengthen political momentum for cervical cancer prevention and avoid risking the lives of many women in the Pacific.

Keywords

Pacific;cervical cancer;human papillomavirus;vaccination;screening practice

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