Upgrading public health programs for human papillomavirus prevention and control is possible in low- and middle-income countries
Cancer is an important cause of premature death in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Two preventive tools are available that have the potential together to sharply decrease the impact of cervical cancer in LMIC. The combination of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical cancer screening within existing programs is possible. Although there is a great deal of concern about introducing and strengthening HPV prevention efforts in LMIC, recent projects have demonstrated feasibility. Thus, with appropriate prioritization and resources, HPV prevention can be introduced and scaled up. Comprehensive HPV prevention strategies, mainly those geared at preventing cervical cancer, should include both vaccination and screening. The integration of both screening and vaccination will save the most lives, and such strategies are endorsed by many international organizations. However, some vaccine and screening programs are financed almost entirely by special externally-based programs. These more closely resemble demonstration exercises than sustainable national programs. In order for successful demonstration projects to have a broad impact on prevention, sustainable national funding based on strong commitments is essential. There may be challenges to implementing HPV prevention programs, but none should be considered insurmountable. Many LMIC have successfully adopted an HPV prevention agenda despite prevailing pessimism. Failure to act on this issue can perpetuate inequity in sexually transmitted infection and cancer prevention. This article forms part of a special supplement entitled "Comprehensive Control of HPV Infections and Related Diseases" Vaccine Volume 30, Supplement 5, 2012.