Got vaccines? Got life!

Gender equity: vaccine support

Got vaccines? Got life!

Gavi supports countries to provide vaccines that specifically benefit girls and women, including vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV), which prevents cervical cancer, and rubella. To date, more than 1.5 million girls have been immunised against HPV with Gavi support, while more than 200 million children have received the combined measles-rubella vaccine through routine immunisation and campaigns.

HPV vaccine

Cervical cancer is a major threat to girls in the developing world, claiming more than 311,000 lives every year.[1] HPV infection is the main cause of cervical cancer globally. Without large-scale interventions, both in terms of prevention and control, the number of deaths is forecast to rise to 460,000 by 2040.[2]

The Alliance has an ambitious target of vaccinating 40 million adolescent girls by 2020 in a scaled rollout of the HPV vaccine[3], which prevents up to 90% of cervical cancer cases. The achievement of this target is highly dependent on the supplier’s capacity to meet the total demand. To address the current supply shortages, the Alliance is working on two fronts:

  • with countries to adjust the timing of their HPV vaccine introductions; and
  • with manufacturers to scale up production capacity and bring new products to market.

So far, 30% of Gavi-supported countries have been approved for support for national introductions with the HPV vaccine. As a result, the Alliance expects to help countries protect 25 million girls by 2020, averting an estimated half a million future deaths.

Social norms

Negative attitudes and social norms often prevent girls from accessing immunisation services, especially against HPV infection. For example, parents may not permit their daughters to be vaccinated if there is a stigma in their community that only sexually-active girls seek such health services.[4]

In 2016, Gavi launched a partnership with Girl Effect, a creative non-profit organisation with expertise in media, mobile, brand and international development. Girl Effect and Gavi are working together in Ethiopia, Malawi and Rwanda to leverage the power of brands to increase demand for the HPV vaccine and encourage girls to use health services at critical times in their lives. This partnership is bringing new insights and opportunities to Gavi’s demand generation activities for the HPV vaccine together with Alliance partners.

[1] GLOBOCAN 2018 Projections, International Agency for Research on Cancer.
[2] Ibid
[3] Girl Effect website:
[4] Girl Effect website:

A focus on Girl Effect