Mapping HPV Vaccination and Cervical Cancer Screening Practice in the Pacific Region-Strengthening National and Regional Cervical Cancer Prevention


Objective : To provide background information for strengthening cervical cancer prevention in the Pacificby mapping current human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical cancer screening practices, as wellas intent and barriers to the introduction and maintenance of national HPV vaccination programmes in theregion. Materials and
Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey among ministry of health officialsfrom 21 Pacific Island countries and territories (n=21).
Results: Cervical cancer prevention was rated as highlyimportant, but implementation of prevention programs were insufficient, with only two of 21 countries andterritories having achieved coverage of cervical cancer screening above 40%. Ten of 21 countries and territorieshad included HPV vaccination in their immunization schedule, but only two countries reported coverage of HPVvaccination above 60% among the targeted population. Key barriers to the introduction and continuation ofHPV vaccination were reported to be: (i) Lack of sustainable financing for HPV vaccine programs; (ii) Lackof visible government endorsement; (iii) Critical public perception of the value and safety of the HPV vaccine;and (iv) Lack of clear guidelines and policies for HPV vaccination.
Conclusion: Current practices to preventcervical cancer in the Pacific Region do not match the high burden of disease from cervical cancer. A regionalapproach, including reducing vaccine prices by bulk purchase of vaccine, technical support for implementationof prevention programs, operational research and advocacy could strengthen political momentum for cervicalcancer prevention and avoid risking the lives of many women in the Pacific.