ADB Assistance to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer, Other Infectious Diseases in Pacific
MANILA, PHILIPPINES (9 November 2018) — The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a total financing package of $29.7 million to support the introduction of new vaccines in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu through the System Strengthening for Effective Coverage of New Vaccines in the Pacific Project. Over 580,000 people across the four countries will benefit from the project, which will improve overall immunization coverage rates and support greater efficiency of primary health services.
The governments of Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu will receive grants of $7.5 million, $3.85 million, and $2.5 million, respectively—all sourced from ADB’s Special Funds resources. Vanuatu, meanwhile, will receive a $2.25 million concessional loan and a $9 million grant from ADB. Governments of the four countries will contribute $4.56 million for the project.
“The project primarily aims to strengthen immunization systems by using the opportunity of introducing a new intervention (vaccines) into four health systems. Vaccines are recognized as one of the most cost-effective health investments, and a well-performing immunization program is an essential component of a functioning public health system,” said ADB Health Specialist for the Pacific Ms. Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez. “The project will increase protection against human papilloma virus (HPV) in females and reduce the burden of pneumonia and diarrhea in children.”
ADB’s assistance will finance the pooled procurement of HPV, rotavirus, and pneumococcus conjugate vaccines though an established UNICEF supply facility. This enables countries with small populations to benefit from global procurement of quality assured vaccines. The project will also support the safe administration of vaccines by upgrading the cold chain in the four countries and training health workers in vaccine administration, waste management, and reporting. This will include the integration of digital solutions in cold chain temperature monitoring and reporting where possible. Community awareness of vaccine importance will be supported through education and communication campaigns specifically targeting women recognizing the role that they play in family health decision making.
Around 70% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV and may be safely prevented by vaccines, with leaders in the Pacific highlighting the need for HPV programs in the region. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death in women the Pacific. Screening programs and awareness in most Pacific countries are lacking.
Globally, pneumonia and diarrhea are among the top three causes of mortality in children under 5. The pneumococcus bacterium and rotavirus respectively are largely responsible for causing those potentially fatal illnesses.
The project finance design includes a phased cofinancing of vaccines with countries and will promote innovations through regular regional exchanges throughout the five-year project duration.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.