February 1, 2020
Urgent high-level action is needed to address a global shortage of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine
In an editorial published in the Lancet, the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent called on the global community to take urgent action to address the shortage of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine as an emergency.
The HPV vaccine protects against infection from HPV, which is spread through sexual contact. Infection could lead to cervical cancer in women, penile cancers in men, and oropharyngeal, anal and other cancers across genders. The global supply of HPV vaccine is currently insufficient to meet demand, and the impact is most keenly felt in low-income countries.
Solutions are available, and a matter of political will; these include employing tiered pricing; developing new manufacturing plants for; and opening up intellectual property to HPV vaccines.
The editorial concludes that investing in comprehensive HPV vaccination, and effective cancer screening and treatment programmes in 50 low- and low-middle-income countries over a decade would avert over 3 million deaths from cervical cancer. It underscores the need for new guidelines on priority vaccination cohorts, and high-level leadership from countries, WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and others to implement them and to stimulate vaccine production. It also calls on country leaders and parliamentarians to commit to prioritizing HPV vaccination for all girls, boys and at-risk adults within their UHC plans.