The Government of Rwanda, together with QIAGEN and Merck, launched a comprehensive national cervical cancer prevention program that includes vaccination with GARDASIL for appropriate girls 12 to 15 years of age and modern molecular diagnostic screening for women between the ages of 35 and 45 in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda is the first nation in Africa to offer a comprehensive prevention program that incorporates both HPV vaccination and HPV testing.
"It is our goal to create a comprehensive, coordinated program that includes HPV vaccination, cancer screening with HPV DNA testing, and treatment in order to address the nation's unmet needs for cervical cancer-related health services," said Dr. Richard Sezibera, Rwanda’s Minister of Health. "This vaccination and screening program brings us one step closer to reaching our goal of protecting the girls and women in our country. We are pleased to have the support of Merck and QIAGEN on this important government initiative."
Cervical cancer affects more women in Rwanda than any other cancer. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic lung diseases threaten the lives of people across the globe, particularly in developing countries. The high-level meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in September this year will focus on the prevention and control of NCDs, continuing momentum for the global fight against NCDs. Though NCDs affect everyone, killing 36 million people annually, they impact the lives of women especially. And what makes it so alarming is that so many of these diseases are preventable.
Prevention is central when it comes to women’s health. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women, with virtually all cases linked to genital infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). A majority of cases and deaths from cervical cancer occur in developing countries, like Rwanda, where access to cervical cancer screening and treatment is difficult or non-existent.
During the first three years of the national prevention program, the Rwandan Ministry of Health, with the support of Merck, will offer GARDASIL to appropriate girls 12 to 15 years of age, while QIAGEN's DNA-based molecular diagnostic HPV tests – the digene HC2 HPV DNA Test and the careHPV Test – will be offered to women between the ages of 35 and 45. QIAGEN’s careHPV test has been designed to reach women where access to medical care is more challenging – the portable testing system can be performed in any health clinic setting by healthcare workers with minimal lab training.
Merck will provide more than two million doses of GARDASIL to the Government of Rwanda at no cost, while QIAGEN will provide 250,000 HPV screening tests at no cost along with all necessary equipment and training to successfully perform the tests. Thereafter, the Government of Rwanda will continue routine vaccination of appropriate 12 year old girls, and Merck will provide GARDASIL at a discounted access price that is made available for national vaccination programs in GAVI-eligible countries. Similarly, QIAGEN will make its HPV tests accessible under a tiered-market pricing structure designed to enable developing countries to establish and maintain the use of HPV testing within national cervical cancer screening and treatment programs.
For more information on the Government of Rwanda, go here.