Rwanda: 130,000 to Benefit From Cancer Vaccines

Rwanda: 130,000 to Benefit From Cancer Vaccines

Over 130,000 girls will receive the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The exercise began yesterday.

This is the second phase following a similar one last year, which saw over 100,000 adolescents receive the same jab three times, within a space of six months.

The campaign targets girls between aged between 12 and 14.

During the exercise that took place yesterday at Apapec Irebero Primary School, Gisozi, more than 40 girls were vaccinated.

Queen Kamanzi, a Primary six pupil at the school who was among those vaccinated, said the vaccine would guard her against the cancer but she raised some concerns.

"I have heard people saying that the vaccine may lead to one not giving birth. I hope these are mere rumours," she said worriedly.

Maurice Gatera, the head of vaccine preventable diseases in the Ministry of

Health, said they were targeting more children compared to last year.

Girls from primary six to senior three will be vaccinated unlike previously where only primary six pupils were vaccinated.

He also refuted the rumours that this vaccine causes infertility saying that HPV Vaccine has no side effects at all but it only prevents cervical cancer.

"Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in Rwanda...we want to fight it from the young generation by ensuring that every girl child is vaccinated," Gatera said.

Gatera said that Rwanda is the first country in Africa to have this programme rolled out countrywide as other countries have been doing it at district level.

The official noted that the vaccine was very expensive (it would cost 450 dollars for each girl) but Rwanda has managed to roll it out countrywide with the help of development partners.

During the vaccination exercise, children were also given de-worming tablets. Four million children in schools and communities are targeted for the de-worming programme.

The former United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Dr. Mark R. Dybul, has been appointed the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Dr. Dybul is widely credited for creating and leading the President''s Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has been highly effective in helping limit and reverse the growth of HIV infection worldwide.

In a statement, the chairman board of Directors, Global Fund, Simon Bland, described, Dybul as a true leader who can take the Global Fund to the next level.

"He has a really impressive vision of how to achieve global health goals. He is passionate, energetic and focused," said Bland.

Reacting to the appointment, the Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, congratulated Dr. Dybul, saying that he was an inspiring choice.

"I have believed in his candidacy for this position since the onset, and have great faith in what he can bring to one of global health''s most vital institutions," she said.

"Mark has long understood that global health must fundamentally be about equity and the fulfilment of the human right to health - not simply about addressing infectious diseases in far-off places.

He demonstrated time and again that he believes in a person-centred approach to health care delivery and that he knows how to build strong systems that do not leave any among the most vulnerable out of benefits".

"Mark Dybul is a dynamic and effective leader. He brings real knowledge, strategic vision and a commitment to working with partners," said Mphu Ramatlapeng, former Health Minister of Lesotho and Board Vice-Chair of the Global Fund.

According to the Global Fund, Dr. Dybul who played a key role in creating and leading PEPFAR - the largest global health initiative ever undertaken to address a single disease, is a trained a medical doctor with a specialty in immunology and a leading expert on AIDS.

He currently co-directs the Global Health Law Program at the O''Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, where he is also a Distinguished Scholar.

He also serves as a director on numerous executive and advisory boards of health organizations, including Malaria No More, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Children''s Investment Fund Foundation and the Global Business Coalition for Health.

The Global Fund is an international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has approved funding of US$ 22.9 billion for more than 1,000 programmes in 151 countries, including Rwanda.

To date, programs supported by the Global Fund have provided AIDS treatment for 3.6 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 9.3 million people and 270 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria.