The Royal Government of Bhutan, Merck (which is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) and the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) launched a national vaccination program with GARDASIL [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant] for appropriate girls and young women in Bhutan. In an effort to reduce the burden of cervical cancer, which affects more women in Bhutan than any other cancer, girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 18 will be offered vaccination with GARDASIL as part of this initiative.
The six-year program led by Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck and the Bhutan Ministry of Health will provide vaccination with GARDASIL starting today. Bhutan is the first low income country in the world to implement a national vaccination program with an HPV cancer vaccine.
“Vaccination programs such as the one we launched today play an important role in helping to protect the women of our country,” said Dr. Ugen Dophu, director, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Bhutan. “It has long been a priority of ours to make health programs like this available to women of our country. We’re pleased to have the support of Merck and the ACCF on such an important initiative.”
Merck is providing GARDASIL [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant], to the program partners at no cost in the first year and for the remaining five years will provide it at an access price at which Merck will not profit. In addition, Merck is providing additional support for implementation of the program. The Royal Government of Bhutan is committed to ensuring sustainability of this program beyond the six year partnership with Merck and ACCF.
“Cervical cancer represents a significant public health problem for Bhutan and the impact on affected women, their families and their communities is great. Merck is committed to helping improve access to GARDASIL in Bhutan and in other resource-limited countries around the world where the prevalence of cervical cancer is high,” said Dr. Mark Feinberg, vice president, Medical Affairs and Policy, Merck Vaccines. “Working in partnership with committed governments and other public and private sector partners is critical to the success of any program developed to enable women in low income countries to benefit from vaccination against cervical cancer.”
ACCF is supporting this national vaccination program by providing financial support to the Royal Government of Bhutan to secure doses of GARDASIL at the access price after the first year of the program is complete. This support is part of ACCF’s commitment to helping reduce cervical cancer in Australia and in low income countries. Since its incorporation in 2007, the aim of ACCF has been to help facilitate access to HPV vaccines for young women and to help facilitate screening and treatment of cervical cancer and related women’s health issues in resource-limited countries in South Asia and the Asia–Pacific region.
“The desire of Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother to help prevent cervical cancer in Bhutanese women has inspired the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Health, Merck and ACCF to achieve an extraordinary common goal and create an example for every nation of the powerful results possible for communities when organizations with different strengths work together in the right partnership,” said Joe Tooma, CEO, Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation.
Date: May 4, 2010
Source: Merck and Co., Inc.