Human papillomavirus vaccine introduction in the Republic of Moldova
Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) will be added to the routine immunization schedule in the Republic of Moldova in November 2017. Timely vaccination against HPV prevents infection with viruses that are the leading cause of cervical and other cancers. The Ministry of Health’s decision to introduce the vaccine followed the recommendation of the country’s independent national immunization technical advisory committee (NITAG) based on its thorough review of available evidence. WHO/Europe support for the decision-making process has included organization of a national conference and stakeholders’ meeting on HPV disease and vaccines on 29–30 September 2016 in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.
The conference brought together public health professionals and clinicians (obstetricians/gynaecologists, paediatricians, oncologists), medical academia, Ministry of Health officials, representatives of the Medical and Pharmaceutical State University, the national immunization programme, United Nations agencies and other stakeholders. They discussed the burden of cervical cancer in the Republic of Moldova and the experience of countries globally and in the European Region in implementing the HPV vaccine, including country efforts to address vaccine safety concerns, as well as other challenges and lessons learnt.
Burden of HPV-related disease
HPV poses a serious burden on public health in the Republic of Moldova. According to WHO estimates, HPV caused cervical cancer in more than 470 women and was responsible for 210 deaths in the country in 2012 alone. Cervical cancer is the third most prevalent of all cancers among women. The Republic of Moldova is among the top 5 countries in the WHO European Region with the highest cervical cancer mortality rates. The introduction of HPV vaccine along with implementation of other preventive interventions will help significantly reduce morbidity and mortality owing to cervical cancer and other HPV-related conditions.
By 2016, 28 countries of the WHO European Region and 67 countries globally introduced HPV vaccine into routine immunization programmes; and after 10 years and more than 200 million doses used, there is strong evidence to support that HPV vaccine is effective and safe. The successful introduction of HPV vaccine requires implementation of intensified public awareness activities and active involvement of health workers.
WHO will continue to provide support to the Republic of Moldova in preparing for and implementing new vaccines.