PAHO Suriname Gears Up in the Fight Against Cervical Cancer with HPV Vaccine Training

29 Nov 2023
29 Nov 2023

Suriname, November 29, 2023 (PAHO/WHO) – In a significant step towards combating cervical cancer, PAHO Suriname and the National Immunization Program hosted a two-day Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine training on November 23rd and 24th, 2023, at the Conference Room of Hotel Jacana. Cervical cancer, ranking as the fourth most common cancer among women globally, has become a critical public health concern in Suriname, with an estimated annual morbidity of 78 cases and mortality of 48 deaths and ranked as the second main cause of cancer in women in Suriname. The training aimed to address these concerns and boost the country's efforts to prevent and control cervical cancer through an updated HPV vaccination strategy.

Training Overview:
The training commenced with opening remarks from distinguished speakers, including Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative, and Sharon Saridjan-Tjokro, Deputy Director of BOG. Sessions included an in-depth overview of cervical cancer and HPV, discussions on recent policy changes with a focus on the modified HPV vaccine protocol, and on communication strategies to educate and raise awareness on the benefits of HPV vaccination. Practical activities engaged participants in estimating HPV vaccine needs and micro planning of the upcoming the 2024 HPV vaccination campaign.

Current Status and Challenges
Despite the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2013, Suriname faced challenges, with coverage plummeting to 8% in 2022. The adoption of the one-dose HPV vaccine schedule, in line with recent WHO SAGE recommendations and PAHO's endorsement, signals a renewed commitment to enhance vaccination efforts. Lessons learned from past implementations, as shared by NIP/RGD/MZ, shed light on the need for targeted strategies.

Richard Kartomo provided an insightful overview of HPV and cervical cancer by setting the stage for discussions on policy changes and vaccine protocol modifications. Ruthly Francois, a PAHO Consultant, delved into the recent policy changes surrounding HPV vaccination, sparking a dynamic dialogue on the critical shifts in approach. Richard Kartomo and Ruthly Francois jointly facilitated discussions on the modifications to the HPV vaccine protocol, highlighting the collaborative efforts required for effective implementation.

Recognizing the importance of practical application, the training incorporated a segment on Suriname's demographics. Participants engaged in a group activity focused on estimating the need for HPV vaccines, fostering collaboration and a deeper understanding of the country's unique requirements. The subsequent discussion and wrap-up emphasized the importance of collective efforts in addressing the challenges and shaping the path forward.

Global and Regional Context
The global push to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem is evident in the Regional Strategy and Plan of Action for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control adopted in 2008. PAHO Member States, including Suriname, pledged to achieve WHO global strategy targets (90-70-90), emphasizing vaccination, screening, and treatment. The recent TAG recommendations aligning with the single-dose schedule for HPV vaccination further highlight the collective commitment in the Americas.

PAHO's Commitment
Dr. Jack emphasized PAHO's unwavering commitment to support Suriname in achieving its vaccination goals. With 47 countries in the Americas already introducing the HPV vaccine in their national schedules, and 23% transitioning to the single-dose schedule, PAHO is at the forefront of providing critical support and expertise. The training served as a platform to strengthen the capacity of health workers immunization from the MOH, RGD and Medical Mission, and initiated comprehensive awareness campaigns.

“There is global evidence demonstrating the effectiveness, and positive impact of HPV vaccines. To ensure high vaccination coverage it is pivotal to communicate this evidence of the safety and benefits of HPV vaccination, and acceptability to health workers, parents and adolescent target groups and their parents.” – PAHO/WHO Representative Dr Noreen Jack

The HPV vaccine training marks a pivotal moment in Suriname's battle against cervical cancer. The collaborative efforts and insights gained during the sessions are set to shape the strategies for the 2024 HPV vaccination campaign. With PAHO's steadfast commitment, Suriname is poised to strengthen its immunization programs and make significant strides in reducing the burden of cervical cancer in the region. The collective dedication showcased during this training sets the stage for a united front in the fight against this prevalent and preventable disease.