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Speech by Ms. Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative at Signing ceremony of new technical collaboration between UNFPA and MSD

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Event: Signing ceremony of new technical collaboration between UNFPA and MSD

Venue: Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma street, Ha Noi

Date: 24 July 2019

  • Dr Nguyen Minh Hang, Deputy Director of General Department of Preventive Medicine;
  • Dr Dinh Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of MCH Department;;
  • Ms. Elsbeth Akkerman, Ambassador of Royal Netherlands Embassy Representatives from concerned departments of MOH and other line ministries
  • Representatives from the health sector of Hanoi and Quang Ninh;
  • Representatives and colleagues from civil society and community based organizations, UN agencies, private sector and media;
  • Mr. Koen Carel Kruijtbosch, Chief Representative, Merck Sharp and Dohme (Asia) Ltd. Rep Office in Viet Nam;
  • Very good morning to you all, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to be here today, at the signing ceremony of the technical collaboration between Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support the Ministry of Health on HPV vaccination. The signing ceremony today is an important milestone of the joined efforts between General Department of Preventive Medicine (GDPM) and National Institute on Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), UNFPA and MSD towards the national rolling out of HPV vaccination programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last weekend, there was a very sad story in local newspaper. A 28-year old woman in Ho Chi Minh city was just engaged and planning for her wedding soon. A few weeks after the engagement ceremony, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The recommended operation crushed her hopes to start a family.

In Viet Nam, according to a 2018 estimate, every day 12 new cases of cervical cancer are identified and seven women die due to cervical cancer. The cervical cancer death is between two and three times higher than the death rate due to pregnancy and childbirth. Globally, cervical cancer is killing more women than HIV, TB and malaria combined.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines have been available since 2006. Studies demonstrated that national HPV vaccination for girls is cost-effective in preventing cervical cancer in 156 countries, including Viet Nam and 10 other countries in Southeast Asia.

Evidence from international studies also confirm that a strategic combination of sufficient coverage of HPV vaccination for adolescent girls and sufficient coverage of cervical screening as well as appropriate treatment for all women with cervical cancer can eliminate cervical cancer as a health problem within our lifetime.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In Viet Nam, during 2007-2008, NIHE and Path successfully implemented a two-year demonstration project which involved piloting HPV vaccine delivery strategies. The project demonstrated that both school- and clinic based strategies achieved very high coverage (over 96% and 98%). However, due to a lack of national resource, lessons learned from this project were not scaled up.

In 2015, the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam developed a National Action Plan on Prevention and Control of Cervical Cancer for the period 2016-2025 which provides directions to scale up access to the HPV vaccination, which currently is low.

One of the major obstacles to scale up HPV vaccination programme is the shortage of national budget for immunization and forbiddingly high costs of HPV vaccine in the market (ranging from USD45-100 per dose at different service delivery points). Fortunately, there is a procurement mechanism that allows Viet Nam to access to the GAVI price of USD4.5 per dose till 2025, and some provinces in Viet Nam have the resources to support solutions to the cervical cancer-health crisis.

In the past two years, with technical and financial support of UNFPA, there have been intensive discussions among key departments and institutions of the Ministry of Health including GDPM, MCH, National Procurement Centre and NIHE and Disease Control Centre of Provincial Department of Health in selected provinces and UNFPA on how to proceed with the rolling out of HPV vaccination using provincial budget.

Together with UNFPA, GDPM and NIHE have been working hard to advocate the Party, National Assembly, Government Office, Ministry of Health and other line ministries at all levels for the rolling out of HPV vaccination in five provinces of Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa, Can Tho and Dong Thap as the first phase. We discussed our proposal with Minister of Health Nguyen Kim Tien and Vice Minister Nguyen Viet Tien and former Vice Minister Nguyen Thanh Long and received their solid supports.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In this initiative, we will apply new financing and procurement mechanisms that use provincial budget approved by Provincial Councils. The procurement of the vaccine will be pooled at the Ministry of Health and centralized by National Procurement Centre through UNICEF.

We are happy that MSD, the well-known global manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and vaccines joins our efforts to combat cervical cancer in Vietnam. The MSD's support will help accelerate and speed up the ongoing preparation process towards the HPV vaccination service delivery in five provinces tentatively starting by 2021. I strongly believe that through this collaboration, MSD will bring its technical expertise and experiences to deliver HPV vaccinations in many countries to Viet Nam.

Along with our efforts, we are informed that other partners are interested in HPV vaccination initiative and may consider giving support for the HPV vaccination programme in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very glad to see representatives from ministries, sectors and organizations at today's signing ceremony. This event is not only a remarkable milestone of the partnership between Ministry of Health, UNFPA and MSD, but also an opportunity for all stakeholders working together to make HPV vaccine available for all girls throughout the country. We need everyone on board.

Once again, on behalf of UNFPA in Viet Nam, I would like to express our sincere thanks to Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien, former Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, Prof Phu, Prof Duc Anh, Prof Hong, Dr Hang and Dr Tho for your commitments to bringing HPV vaccine to all Vietnamese adolescent girls. I also acknowledge the efforts of the UNFPA and MSD team in the entire process of making this collaboration happen.

Let me assure you that UNFPA is fully committed to support the Government of Viet Nam in the rolling out HPV vaccination in the country. No husband should lose a wife, no sibling should lose a sister, no parents should lose a daughter and no child should lose a mother.

Xin cảm ơn và chúc sức khỏe, hạnh phuc và thành công!!!