Preventing cervical cancer in Malawi

HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi

Malawi 2020 © Nadia Marini/MSF

At the end of January 2020, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vaccinated 8,500 nine-year-old girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in Chiradzulu district, Malawi, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH). Teams reached out to girls in 100 schools in 17 health centers over the course of eight days. 

In Chiradzulu, cervical cancer accounts for 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women. By ensuring HPV vaccination for girls in rural and isolated areas, MSF is helping to reduce the number of lives that could be lost to cervical cancer. 

Cervical cancer is largely preventable but is fatal for a disproportionate number of women in low- and middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. 

HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
Current estimates show Malawi as having the world’s highest rate of mortality from cervical cancer, and the second highest incidence rate of new cases each year. In January 2020, MSF participated in Malawi’s second nationwide HPV vaccination campaign, gathering 9-year-old girls for their first dose and 10-year-olds for their second dose. Over eight days in rural Chiradzulu, MSF and the Ministry of Health provided vaccinations to more than 8,500 girls across 100 schools and 17 health centers.
Malawi 2020 © Nadia Marini/ MSF

The most effective prevention method is vaccination against HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection that is the leading cause of cervical cancer. MSF has campaigned for many years to ensure that vaccinations are affordable and available to all. By supporting HPV vaccination campaigns for girls in countries like Malawi, where the number of new cases and deaths from cervical cancer are among the highest in the world, we can help save lives.

HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
MSF interpreter Tifera speaks with schoolgirls in Chiradzulu District, Malawi, to prepare them for their vaccination against HPV.
Malawi 2020 © Nadia Marini/MSF

MSF interpreter Tifera explains the vaccination campaign to the girls at Lisawo primary school in Malawi's Chiradzulu district and answers their questions.