If caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable. Even better, with access to the HPV vaccine and regular cervical screening, it’s also highly avoidable. However, in most developing nations, cervical cancer still kills more women than any other kind of cancer.
At ACCF, we know things can be different.
We know that vaccinating a girl against HPV reduces her risk of dying from cervical cancer by up to 80% while screening a woman between 30 and 40 years of age, just once, reduces her risk of dying from cervical cancer by up to 40%.
That’s why we’ve made it our mission to ensure vaccinations, cervical screening and cancer treatment are available where women need it most. From Vanuatu to Vietnam, here’s where we’re working and what we’re doing to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Margaret McAdam have been actively working in Vanuatu for over 10 years now to help save women from the death and suffering caused by cervical cancer, the most common cause of cancer death for women in Vanuatu. Since 2015, The Frazer Family Foundation, directly funded the vaccination of 3000 girls and also enabled the screening of 5000 women using advanced HPV testing years before it became the standard mode of cervical screening in Australia in December 2017. The installation of more than $45,000 worth of lab equipment to the Vila Central Hospital in 2016 & 2017 has helped ensure pathology and histology are both accessible and timely, while diagnosis and treatment are available when they’re needed most.
ACCF’s work in Vanuatu through Dr Margaret McAdam has resulted in the cervical cancer vaccination program now being the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. COVID-19 precautions have temporarily interrupted cervical screening clinics, but they will continue in Port Vila and on Santo as soon as it is safe to do so.
You can donate to the Vanuatu Project here
In 2008 Nepal became the first developing country in which ACCF began operating. The program commenced with the vaccination of four girls. As the saying goes, from small seeds big trees grow and at that time the lofty objective was, within ten years, to vaccinate 1000 girls per year. With the establishment of the locally-incorporated Nepal Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (NACCF), we worked with government and non-government organisations to facilitate community-based education and provide access to vaccines free of charge. Thanks to this partnership, we were able within seven years to vaccinate over 31,000 girls.
ACCF together with the local World Health Organization representatives actively lobbied the Nepalese Government to avail of a GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization) demonstration project. Following the successful conclusion of the demonstration project, the Nepalese Government decided to move to a phased introduction of a National Vaccination Program from 2019 or 2020. Implementation has been temporarily delayed because of the need to clarify bureaucratic requirements as Nepal moves to a federal system of government.
ACCF has continued to support NACCF and constructed and fitted out a women’s clinic in the town of Banepa, providing now an ongoing base for mobile screening camps and nurse and vaccinator training. NACCF (and previously as NNCTR – Nepal Network for Cancer Treatment and Research) have screened and treated thousands of women for cervical cancer across Nepal. The Banepa Clinic continues to provide treatment for women who have tested VIA+ (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid) as well as to offer general screening and examination facilities.
We have also helped:
- Train over 400 doctors and nurses to carry out VIA testing, enabling a sustainable single visit approach to the screening and treatment of cervical abnormalities and cancer.
- Introduce Australian fundraisers and supporters to the wonders of Nepal, giving them a first-hand look at our lifesaving work on the regular ACCF Adventure Challenge.
2018 was the 10 Year Anniversary. Watch the video below for more information
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
Nothing makes Bhutan happier than having healthy girls and healthy women. So when approached by Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother of Bhutan to expand our work into Bhutan, ACCF jumped at the chance.
Following the success of a vaccination pilot program in 2009, we’ve partnered with the Bhutan Ministry of Health and Merck in 2010 to launch the first National HPV Vaccination Program in a developing country. Since then, we’ve helped facilitate the vaccination of almost 100,000 Bhutanese girls.
2020 marks the 10th Anniversary, and reflecting the success of the program, Bhutan continues to take a leading role amongst developing countries by seeking to introduce HPV DNA screening for women and planning to vaccinate boys.
Thanks to our annual Adventure Challenge, you can see the magic of the Kingdom of Bhutan for yourself while getting an up-close and personal look at our work on the ground.
Since 2011, our work with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has enabled the vaccination of 3000 girls during 2014 till 2016 and the cervical screening and treatment of hundreds of women across Kiribati, through our connection with Kiribati Family Health Association. Our work has seen vaccines transported by canoe from island to island, along with the delivery of essential ongoing community education and awareness programs.
Regrettably, insufficient resources have meant that our partnerships have been inactive for the past 2 years. We are actively seeking support to recommence involvement in both cervical screening and school HPV vaccination. As little as AU$30,000 will be able to make that happen and literally will help the entire nation of Kiribati. If you know a donor passionate about women’s health or if you are a donor passionate about women’s health please email email@example.com
The Solomon Islands
ACCF’s work in Solomon Island commenced in 2011 and after many years of collaboration and direct involvement between ACCF, people on the ground and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, a successful application was made to GAVI for a Demonstration HPV Vaccination Program in the Solomon Islands. That 2 year demonstration Program began in April 2015 with GAVI providing Gardasil vaccine for some 8,000 school girls over 2 year plus money to help carry out the program. The initial demonstration vaccination program provided vaccines to girls aged 9 to 12 years in the provinces of Honiara and Isabel
With a lot of hard work from the Solomon Islands health workers everything went according to plan. Because of the success, ACCF then worked to ensure that GAVI support was again available to introduce a genuine national cervical cancer vaccination. Eventually the Solomon Islands National HPV Vaccination Program launched in May 2019, with 40,000 girls being vaccinated in the initial year and approximately an 8,000 new cohort of girls every year after that.
ACCF continues to support awareness, screening and treatment programs across the Solomon Islands as part of our ultimate goal to eliminate cervical cancer in the developing world. The next project which is in the planning phase, but has been temporarily delayed by COVID-19, is to commence cervical screening using HPV testing, as is available to Australian women. The initial site will be Munda in the Western Province by mid 2021.
Since 2011, we’ve been working with the Thai Binh Medical University, the Research Centre for Rural Population and Health, the Center for Environment and Health Studies and the Institute for Reproductive and Family Health to deliver screening, treatment and research programs across Vietnam. Our programs have been running in various regions, including the provinces of Thai Binh, Vinh Phuc and Hoa Binh in the north, and in Can Tho and Hau Giang.
To date, about 40,000 women have been screened and slightly over 6 percent have tested VIA positive. Initially not all women appreciated the importance of treatment, but treatment levels have improved over the course of our programs. In recent times 95-100 percent of VIA positive women have received treatment. In the areas where we have been working there has been a notable increase in knowledge about cervical cancer and the importance of screening.
Our first program in Vietnam was in the Province of Thai Binh. In 2019, the new Center for Disease Control in Thai Binh assumed responsibility for ongoing screening of all women in the Province. This is a most welcome development. Because ACCF has limited resources, from the outset of our programs in Vietnam we had sought to encourage local authorities to assume greater responsibility.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Filipino women die from cervical cancer at ten times the rate of Australian women. Our partnership with the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network (CECAP) and the Department of Health aims to change that.
The Province of Northern Samar was chosen as it is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. It is an isolated and largely rural province and one heavily impacted by typhoons. Our program to raise awareness and provide screening and treatment for women affected by cervical cancer commenced in the Northern Samar town of Catarman. ACCF has been encouraged by the committed, enthusiastic and welcoming manner in which the project has been received in Catarman.
The program began in October 2015 and has seen over 100 local health workers graduate from a week-long intensive training program. These upgraded skills have enabled them to deliver VIA Cervical Screening throughout most barangays (villages) in Catarman. The first stage of the project has proceeded successfully and we believe has provided a workable model that we hope can be replicated in other poor, rural and isolated regions of the Philippines.
Funds permitting, ACCF hopes it will be able to test the model further in other Northern Samar towns over the coming three years. After that we hope that the Department of Health will play a leading role in promoting the model in other poor and isolated regions of the Philippines.
2019 Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) Manila Summit: