Preventing cervical cancer in Malawi

Nine-year-old Vanessa is one of 8,500 girls who received the HPV vaccination in Chiradzulu district, Malawi, thanks to a campaign in January 2020 conducted by MSF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
Malawi 2020 © Nadia Marini/MSF
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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.
© 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. 

 

 

Photo story: HPV vaccination in Malawi

HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
© Nadia Marini/MSF
Girls at Lisawo primary school in Chiradzulu, Malawi, learn about how to prevent cervical cancer.
HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
© Nadia Marini/ MSF
MSF’s team, including pharmacists and logistics staff, must coordinate carefully to keep vaccines cold and ready to use wherever they are needed.
HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
© Nadia Marini/MSF
Ivy (left) and Love (right) wait to receive their HPV vaccination at Lisawo primary school. Each girl has a vaccination report and ID card, used to keep track of their vaccination schedule and record consent from their parents.
HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
© Nadia Marini/MSF
A young girl receives a single dose of HPV vaccine at Lisawo primary school in Chiradzulu, Malawi.
HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
© Nadia Marini/MSF
Nine-year-old Shila is vaccinated against HPV at Lisawo primary school in Chiradzulu, Malawi.
HPV Vaccination Campaign Chiradzulu Malawi
©Nadia Marini/ MSF
A group of young girls gather after the HPV vaccination session at Lisawo primary school in Chiradzulu, Malawi.