UN health agency awarded grant for cervical cancer vaccine research

1 June 2005

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has today received a $7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the development and introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to protect against cervical cancer.

"This contribution…will help to save the lives of many women by immunizing them against human papillomavirus infections," WHO Director-General Lee Jong-Wook said in statement issued today in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, at the sixth annual WHO Global Vaccine Research Forum.

HPVs, the world's most common sexually transmitted viruses, infect about 70 per cent of sexually active adult populations. While HPV infection clears without treatment in the majority of people, it can develop into chronic infection and, in some women, cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are associated with more than 99 per cent of all cervical cancer cases worldwide and cervical cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women in developing countries.

The Research Forum runs from 12 June to 15 June and is being co-hosted by the World Health Organization Initiative for Vaccine Research and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). The organizers expect some 200 of the top vaccine researchers, scientists and public health experts to participate.

The grant to WHO is part of a joint international effort with the international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Harvard University and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH).

IARC, Harvard, and PATH also received grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the four grants together amount to a total $12 million, WHO added.

 

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