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Two studies analyze the cost of HPV vaccines in low-income countries

Category: Infectious Diseases

Two new studies in Tanzania helped reveal the cost of providing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to developing countries and the most cost-effective method of delivering the vaccines to young women.

Study number one
The first study, which was conducted by Wilm Quentin, M.D., M.Sc., from the Technical University in Berlin and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania and the World Health Organization (WHO), analyzed the cost difference of delivering vaccinations by the patients' grade versus their age in a school-based vaccination program.

The research used various schools in three different districts of Tanzania as models, and it found that doing grade level-based vaccinations had a marginally lower cost than age-based delivery of vaccinations. The research also showed that it would cost nearly $1.3 million to vaccinate Tanzania's Mwanza region, which averaged out to $9.76 per girl.

Study number two
The second study was conducted by Raymond Hutubessy and fellow investigators from the WHO, and looked at the effectiveness of the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Costing (C4P) tool over a time period of five years. The C4P helps low- and middle-income countries map out their HPV vaccine programs and gauge the costs of delivering the vaccine through outreach programs, schools and health centers.

According to the data, some of the most significant costs of administering vaccinations included operations like training, staff time, supervision and monitoring, along with other practical costs such as education, mobilization and communication. Not including the price of the vaccine itself, the results showed that the cost of immunizing a single girl was $12.40. The study authors noted that the amount of money required to run a vaccination program declines after its implemnetation and that the research may help governments estimate how much funding they will need to start vaccination programs.

"These figures will enable governments to plan ahead so that they can adequately secure the financial resources required to introduce HPV vaccination programs," said Hutubessy.

HPV facts and statistics
According to the WHO, in 2008, cervical cancer caused by HPV, which can be detected with a lab test, killed nearly 274,000 women. Also in that same year, there were an estimated 529,000 new cases of the virus. HPV can also cause other kinds of anogenital cancer, neck cancer and genital warts in both men and women. The virus is contracted through sexual intercourse.

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