Cervical cancer is the leading cancer killer of women in developing countries. Every year, over 270,000 women worldwide die from this serious disease and yet it is highly preventable. ACCF believes that no matter where a woman lives, every woman should have the chance to protect herself from cervical cancer. We are determined to help eliminate cervical cancer in Australia and in in our neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Kiribati, The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Vietnam through the facilitation of vaccination programs for girls as well as screening and treatment programs for women.
We know that if caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and avoidable. In order to make that a reality, we have extended our vision to our neighbours in these countries to help save lives and reduce unnecessary trauma to families.
By vaccinating a girl it reduces her risk from dying from cervical cancer by up to 80%. By screening a woman in a developing country even just once, it reduces her risk from dying from this disease by up to 40%.
Here are the countries we currently work in and this is what we are doing in each of them to eliminate this horrific and highly preventable disease. Click to enlarge the image.
Since 2007 ACCF has vaccinated over 31,000 girls and screened and treated thousands of women for cervical cancer.
This Himalayan country of 30 million people was the first country that ACCF started its work back in 2008. Since then ACCF has facilitated the vaccination of thousands of Nepalese girls and screened thousands of Nepalese women.
In Nepal, ACCF is working with government and non-government organisations to educate communities on the benefits of vaccination and distribute the HPV cervical cancer vaccine free of charge to them. In 2009 the Nepal Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (NACCF) was established as a local NGO to help facilitate these programs at a local level.
ACCF is also assisting the Nepalese Ministry of Health and Population to be able to implement a comprehensive Cervical Cancer Strategy which would include the screening of at least 50% of women in Nepal over the next 5 years. ACCF will also support the Ministry in its preparations for an eventual rollout of a staged National HPV Vaccination Program with the support of the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (GAVI). As well as these Programs, ACCF and NACCF are running community education and awareness programs in Nepal so that women are educated about the causes of cervical cancer and how it can be prevented.
ACCF has also constructed a Women’s Clinic in the town of Banepa which will act as a base for the mobile vaccination and screening camps and also provide premises for nurses and vaccinators to be trained.
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2013 is the 5-year anniversary of our work in Nepal. Watch the video below for more information:
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
Since 2009, ACCF has facilitated the vaccination of almost 70,000 Bhutanese girls in this magical Himalayan Kingdom where success is measured through their Gross National Happiness Index. And nothing makes Bhutan happier than having healthy girls and healthy women. After hearing about the work ACCF was doing in Nepal, Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother of Bhutan who has had family members affected by cervical cancer, encouraged ACCF to expand its work to Bhutan.
In 2009 ACCF launched a vaccination pilot program with the support of AXIOS. Following the success of this, in 2010 ACCF with our partners the Bhutan Ministry of Health and Merck launched the first National HPV Vaccination Program in a developing country. This program was made possible with the support of Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother and received a special commendation for corporate responsibility at the Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Awards in Hong Kong in 2011.
To join an Adventure Challenge, experience Bhutan’s Happiness index and to see our Programs firsthand in Bhutan.
Since 2011 ACCF has facilitated the vaccination of about 3000 girls as well as facilitated the screening and treatment of women from Kiribati. ACCF is also facilitating community education and awareness programs to educate the community on cervical cancer and its prevention. Would you believe that in order to save lives we transporting the vaccines in eskys via canoe! Its one of the fun but challenging parts of delivering this program between the islands of Kiribati.
The Solomon Islands
With the support of ACCF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, HPV vaccination will commence in April 2015 with over SBD $8 million worth of Gardasil vaccine provided. The Gardasil vaccine protects against HPV types 16 and 18 which cause 70% of cervical cancers. The same vaccine has been used successfully for Australian school girls since 2007 and is currently in use in more than 120 countries in the world. The vaccine has been available in Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati and is also expected to be made available in Papua New Guinea in 2015. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that more than 175 million doses of HPV vaccine have been provided for girls and young women throughout the world and it has proven to be very effective and very safe. However, due to the cost of the vaccine, the program will initially be made available for girls aged 9-12 yrs (as recommended by WHO). The first provinces to take part will be Honiara and Isabel with the aim to help the Solomon Island Ministry of Health and Medical Services introduce HPV vaccination as a national program over the next two years. ACCF is also intending to support awareness, screening and treatment programs for the women of Solomon Islands in an effort to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Since 2011, ACCF has been facilitating screening, treatment and research programs in Vietnam with the cooperation of our partners; the Thai Binh Medical University, the Research Centre for Rural Population and Health and the Institute for Reproductive and Family Health. These programs have been running in various regions including Thai Bin Province, Vinh Phuc Province, Hoa Binh Province and most recently in Can Tho in the south of Vietnam.
ACCF is also doing awareness programs as well as screening programs for thousands of women and looks forward to expanding this in the future in order to screen about 5000 women a year!
This idyllic Pacific Island is also affected by high rates of cervical cancer. ACCF is working with Australians Helping Abroad and the Frazer Family Foundation in order to facilitate the vaccination of 3000 girls a year as well as trialling the use of Qaigen HPV Testing for 5000 women each year.
In all of ACCF’s overseas Programs, ACCF gratefully acknowledges the support of Merck & Co. Inc (USA) and Axios International (France) in being able to make these Programs possible.
In November 2014, ACCF facilitated Qiagen HPV Testing training for heath technologists from Vanuatu. This type of testing will ensure the cervical screening and HPV testing is more efficient in Vanuatu.
Women in the Philippines regrettably die from cervical cancer at ten times the rate of Australian women according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures. ACCF is partnering with CECAP (Cervical Cancer Prevention Network) and the Ministry of Health over the next three years to help provide screening and treatment for cervical cancer in the district of Catarman which is an area badly affected by extreme typhoons in recent years. Our program commenced in October 2015 with a week long comprehensive training program run by Dr Llave and Dr Amorin from CECAP. There were over one hundred local health workers who successfully graduated from the week long intensive training with their skills being upgraded to be able to undertake VIA Cervical Screening throughout the Northern Samar district. WHO statistics show that even screening a woman once between the ages of 30 and 40 will reduce the risk of dying from cervical cancer by 40%.