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Monday, January 2, 2012

Rwandans Welcome HPV Vaccine Program

One dose of the vaccine Gardasil, developed by Merck & Co. (AP)

Here in the U.S., the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus, which can lead to cancer, has met some resistance. HPV is sexually transmitted, and some social conservatives warned that administering the HPV vaccine to young girls could encourage promiscuity.

The debate came to a head during a recent Republican debate when Rep. Michelle Bachmann criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2007 mandate, later overturned by the Texas legislature, that all 6th grade girls get the vaccine. Bachmann said Perry’s mandate amounted to government overreach.

HPV Vaccine In Rwanda

Meanwhile, in Rwanda, a new program has administered the vaccine widely, without controversy.

Dr. Peter Drobac, director of the Rwanda Project for Partners in Health told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the program was launched in April 2011, and between April and August, 96 percent of 11-year-old girls in Rwanda received the vaccine.

Drobac says that the vaccine program has been welcomed, even by the country’s Catholic clergy members, who took part in a public awareness campaign to teach Rwandans about the vaccine.

He says the only pushback against the program in Rwanda has been over the fact that it’s limited to 11-year-old-girls.

“The only resistance we faced was from older girls and young women who also wanted to receive the vaccine once they heard it could prevent cancer,” he said.

Drobac says that as Rwanda has been able to bring down the incidences of infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, the country is turning attention to fighting cervical cancer.

“Cervical cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Rwanda,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Partnership With Merck

The program was made possible because of a partnership that Rwanda entered into with the drug company Merck, which makes Gardisil, one of the two HPV vaccines.

“Merck agreed to provide enough doses to vaccinate every 11-year-old in Rwanda for three consecutive years, so those are being provided free of charge,” Drobac said.

The HPV vaccinations in Rwanda are not mandatory.


  • Dr. Peter Drobac, director of the Rwanda Project for Partners in Health

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ernest

    Thanks, Congulaturalion to Rwanda.

  • Caymanislands Amfpartners

    Dear Mr. edittor,

    This coment is for Dr. Peter Drobac. I an currently doing a documentary on HPV and I would like to know if there is anyway that I could do an interview with you and maybe film some of the girls that are being vaccinated. And to talk to some of the parents and see how they are coping after receiving the vaccine.

    Keep up the good work in the fight against HPV.


  • laevern

    gardasil    “all HPV Vaccines”

    hpv and  acquired immunity

    all vaccines have an established acquired immunity before a vaccine is made

    a small piece of this acquired immunity is in the vaccine

    not threw all its testing requirements

    well HPV Is not the plague;

     and it needs to be a real population threat

    not a made up one

    gardasil does not have an MSDS sheet, legal requirement

    backdoors in policy and ect ect ect

    got into the cdc fda

    No its the EPA that sends the paperwork to FDA to make legal not 

    Merck sends it

    who was that married to the maker of gardasil………………..and
    then  for authority used a name with degrees and the maker died he was
    chinese she looked part was not chinese and disappeared out of the

    why did merck use Vioxx,  some drug they new,  as with those with Merck stock , got relating news their periodicals

    Vioxx hurt people,  they had that,

     in these periodicals

    where they studying of

     what who where how and why

    what needs to be done to not pull a Hazardous drug of the market

    yes that was very criminal

    for merck

    to push it on the governors with quality bull

    as they are so busy with everthing else

    a bigger picture falls here

    that an influence is pulling the strings………………………..

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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