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Malawi, cancer du col de l'utérus, vaccination


Photo story: Preventing cervical cancer

A young girl receives a single dose of HPV vaccine. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF
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In late January 2020, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, MSF implemented an HPV vaccination campaign for 8,500 nine-year-old girls in the Chiradzulu district of Malawi.

    Cervical cancer is largely preventable, and yet it is fatal for a disproportionate number of women in low- and middle-income countries. Particularly in eastern, western, middle and southern Africa, cervical cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related mortality in women.

    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.

    MSF 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, MSF 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.

    Tifera, an MSF interpreter, assists the girls to get in line as they arrive for their vaccinations at Lisawo Primary School. Malawi, January 2020 © Nadia Marini/MSF

    Interpreter Tifera explains to the girls what is happening today and answers their questions. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF

    While they wait, the girls excitedly read more about cervical cancer and its prevention. Malawi, January 2020.
    © Nadia Marini/MSF

    Keeping vaccinations cold and ready-to-use can be a difficult operation. MSF’s team, including pharmacists and logistics staff must coordinate carefully to keep vaccines in the right condition for use wherever they are needed. Malawi, January 2020.
    © Nadia Marini/MSF

    Ivy (left) and Love (right) wait to receive their vaccination. Each girl has an HPV vaccination report and ID card, used to keep track of their vaccination schedule and record consent from parents. Malawi, January 2020.
    © Nadia Marini/MSF

    A young girl receives a single dose of HPV vaccine. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF

    Vanessa, 9, receives her HPV vaccination. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF

    Shila, 9, is vaccinated against HPV. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF

    At the end of the session, the girls head back to class, stopping to wave and play along the way. Malawi, January 2020. © Nadia Marini/MSF


    By ensuring HPV vaccination for girls in rural and isolated areas, MSF is helping to reduce the number of girls who may have otherwise been lost to cervical cancer.