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Global Gender-Neutral Vaccination?

(above): NOMAN CEO, David Winterflood with co-founder & President, Tristan Almada.

Last week, NOMAN headed to Geneva for the 77th edition of the World Health Assembly (WHA). This annual gathering brings together international delegates to discuss the most pressing global health issues. The theme for 2024 was ‘All for Health, Health for All’, and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s member states convened to agree on the WHO’s priorities and policies for the years ahead. Discussions this year included pandemic preparedness and cancer control, providing the perfect opportunity to introduce our vision of ending HPV cancers globally into the global health discourse.

Throughout the week, NOMAN participated in several roundtable discussions and WHA side events, focusing on HPV elimination. As part of these events, our co-founder and president, Tristan Almada, shared Paulette’s story and our roadmap to achieve a world free from HPV cancers.

On Wednesday, May 29th, NOMAN CEO David Winterflood co-chaired a side-event roundtable with our partners, Global Action on Men's Health (GAMH), bringing together influential public health leaders and policymakers from around the world. This latest initiative of our partnership with GAMH, aimed to:

  • Promote discussion among prominent figures in the HPV, cancer, and public health domains who advocate for the role of gender-neutral HPV vaccination (GNV) in effectively reducing the global burden of cancer in both men and women.

  • Identify the key barriers to and opportunities for achieving worldwide GNV.

  • Discuss collaboration opportunities.

This debate is timely in the global landscape. Traditionally, HPV prevention programs have focused on vaccinating girls, as the majority of HPV cancer cases affect females, particularly cervical cancer. However, evidence is growing regarding the burden of HPV disease in males. To succeed in our global health efforts to eliminate cervical cancer in line with the WHO objective, protecting males is the pragmatic solution, enabling us to accelerate elimination efforts, in addition to removing barriers to immunisation.

Nonetheless, obstacles remain. Protecting boys against HPV in some countries, predominantly lower-income countries, is seen as less of a priority due to the high levels of cervical cancer in females and the costs of providing an extra dose for boys. In addition, a constrained global vaccine supply has also been cited historically as a potential barrier to uptake, although a healthy supply situation is expected by 2024/25.

GNV is invaluable if we are to prevent cervical cancer. It provides benefits in program resilience, gender equity, reducing stigma, and increasing vaccine acceptance, as well as enabling the elimination of oncogenic (cancer-causing) strains of HPV with a lower coverage rate (around 75%) than female-only programmes (where 90% of girls need to be immunised).

The timing therefore, is appropriate for this policy discussion to be staged at the global level. To that end, NOMAN will return to Geneva for the World Cancer Congress in September, where as part of our continued initiative with GAMH we will launch our forthcoming manifesto on Global Gender-Neutral Vaccination. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to advocate for a global approach to HPV prevention and elimination.

Through bold leadership and urgency we can secure a future free from HPV cancers for our sons and daughters.



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