Preventing cervical cancer in Malawi

Effective prevention 

The most effective prevention is vaccination against a common cause of cervical cancer, the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common, sexually transmitted infection. Vaccinating girls against HPV protects them from the strongest strains of the infection which, if persistent, can develop into cervical cancer. 

Médecins Sans Frontières has campaigned for many years to ensure vaccinations are affordable and available to all. However, the people who need vaccinations most are often the ones who miss out, as is the case in many of the places where MSF works. By supporting vaccination campaigns for girls in countries where the number of new cases and deaths are highest, we can reduce the number of lives lost to this cancer. 

A day in the programme 

In late January 2020, Médecins Sans Frontières ran an 8-day vaccination HPV campaign in the Chiradzulu district of Malawi in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. Here, cervical cancer accounts for 40% of all cancers diagnosed in women. The campaign provided vaccinations to more than 8,500 9-year-old girls across 100 schools and 17 health centres. 

One of these schools was Lisawo Primary School, in rural Malawi. Here, we give you an inside look at this programme and introduce you to some of the brave girls receiving their vaccination.