cervical cancer


No Controversy Here: Rwanda’s Effort to Beat HPV and Cervical Cancer | 

HPV CouricDaytime television host Katie Couric courted controversy where it does not exist, yesterday. She featured Emily Tarsell a woman who said the HPV vaccine Gardasil is responsible for her her daughter’s death.

Remaining guests, including medical doctors, discussed their support and opposition to the HPV vaccine. Couric builds ‘controversy’ by rising fear of vaccines based on non or pseudo-scientific claims. The ‘balanced’ style of reporting left viewers with few answers and may have caused more confusion than help enlighten misinformed Americans.

“So we’ve obviously heard two different sides about the HPV vaccine and I think for parents watching, it’s probably still rather confusing when you hear these heartbreaking stories that these parents have endured,” closed Couric.

Viwers are left thinking that there is an actual debate over the HPV vaccine when there isn’t.

There is more agreement in the medical community than Couric’s show lets on. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women both receive the vaccine and are screened regularly for cancer. It is the same recommendation made by the World Health Organization for countries around the world. Continue reading

Rwanda is not happy with ‘balanced’ Kagame profile | 

Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Jeffrey Gettleman finally got the opportunity to sit down with Rwanda’s controversial president Paul Kagame.

The three hour conversation was used in an article published in the New York Magazine profiling Kagame. The piece caught attention for a less-than-flattering depiction of the Rwandan president and even generated a bizarre response from the Kagame office.

Gettleman’s piece covers the range of views on Kagame. He is the leader who turned around Rwanda in the wake of a horrific genocide that should have sent the country in a tailspin. He is also the autocrat who stifles opponents in Rwanda and is accused of inciting rebellion in the neighboring DR Congo by supporting rebel groups.

Yolande Makolo, the communications director for the Presidency in Rwanda, responded critically to the article in allAfrica. She said that she turned down Gettleman’s previous requests to interview Kagame, but was convinced by a mutual acquaintance to allow for the conversation. When it did happen, Gettleman went well beyond the hour that he was allotted to speak with the president.
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Gates-backed vaccine alliance targets cervical cancer in poor countries – for a price | 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s biggest, and arguably most successful, project in global health has announced a new deal with vaccine manufacturers aimed at combatting one of the biggest killers of women in the developing world, cervical cancer.

Seth Berkley
Seth Berkley

“This is a disease that is killing women in the prime of their life,” said Seth Berkley, CEO of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), an initiative launched by the Gates Foundation in 2000 which has in the last dozen or so years prevented millions of deaths in children by expanding access to new vaccines in poor countries.

Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus, human papillomoa virus or HPV, and the drug industry has developed a number of HPV vaccines. But these new vaccines are expensive (more than $100 per dose) and have been out-of-reach for most poor countries. Women in rich countries have access to cervical cancer screening (Pap tests) and curative treatment, but women in poor countries generally do not.

“As a result, we see an estimated 275,000 women dying from cervical cancer in these countries every year,” Berkley said. Girls and women in poor countries are hit by a ‘triple whammy,’ he said, of higher disease incidence, lack of diagnosis and lack of treatment. Without access to a preventive vaccine, Berkley said, that death toll will only increase.

GAVI will begin support for HPV vaccines in Kenya as early as this month followed by Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and the United Republic of Tanzania. – See more at: http://www.gavialliance.org/library/news/press-releases/2013/hpv-price-announcement/#sthash.gDPujj1x.dpuf

Today, at the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, GAVI announced that two drug companies, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, have agreed to provide their HPV vaccines to poor countries for $4.50 and $4.60, respectively, per dose. Continue reading

PATH encounters vaccine foes, charges of unethical research in India | 


Flickr, Dey


One of every four deaths from cervical cancer worldwide is a woman in India.

The cancer, which kills 250,000 women every year, is almost always caused by a sexually transmitted virus, human papillomavirus or HPV. There is a vaccine against HPV that studies have shown prevents this infection. India, it turns out, has more than its fair share of HPV and cervical cancer.

In 2009, Seattle-based PATH, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a project aimed at assisting India with introducing the HPV vaccine.

It didn’t work out as planned, as a report in Nature News this week — entitled Vaccines trial’s ethics criticized — describes in some detail.

The sub-headline of the Nature article, “Collapsed trial fuels unfounded vaccine fears,” is perhaps a bit closer to capturing the essence of this tale. But you could also say it was actually the unfounded fears that caused the collapse, which continues to fuel allegations of unethical research. An excerpt:

A scientific investigation has exonerated the vaccines but uncovered a more familiar problem in India: ethical irregularities.

Sounds bad, but I don’t think that was really the main problem here either. The problem, at least insofar as I can tell, is that the scientific and medical community basically sat on the sidelines and hoped to avoid controversy instead of dealing with it head on. Continue reading