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Vaccines For Cervical Cancer Will Soon Be Available In Developing Nations

Human papilloma virus (HPV), is the virus that causes cervical cancer as it affects the lining of the mouth of the uterus, known as cervix. It is transmitted sexually.//

Merck & Co. Inc.'s have recently launched Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline Plc's has introduced Cervarix, both vaccines, clinically been proven to prevent cervical cancer.

The new products with great potential are likely to be welcomed in rich countries but it is very doubtful how it would be received by the developing world, where 80 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur. This is because of lack of awareness and also dearth of screening and treatment programs.

Health experts called for a global access of these vaccines, at a conference in London. The gathering comprised of 60 health experts from multilateral agencies, government, charities and the drug industry.

It was discussed that more than 250,000 lives could be saved each year, if girls around the world were given the vaccine before they reached puberty.

It is reported that more than 95% of women in the developing world never have a cervical smear test.

As a result, women in these countries with the disease face a painful and protracted death.

Nothemba Simelela, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said: "There is usually a 15 to 20 year delay between the time that new vaccines are approved in the West and the time they reach developing countries.

"The world cannot afford to wait 20 years to begin saving women from cervical cancer."

But this will be quite expensive , as immunization requires three doses, that cost US$120 each.

Drug companies have said they would consider lower prices, but it is unlikely to reach a level which would be affordable for women in poor countries.

PATH, an American organization is examining the possibilities of using the vaccine in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam.
It is believed that the vaccine will be most effective when given to girls aged under-13, before the girl begins her sex life.

Dr Jacqueline Sherris, from PATH, said, "There is an increasing commitment on the part of global community to supplement the cost of the vaccine in the initial years of its availability so companies can make the profit they need and at the same time it's affordable to poorer countries."

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