The workshop on "Implementing HPV vaccination in Africa: opportunities for strengthening adolescent health" was organised by SAVIC/Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South African Medical Research Council and NESI/University of Antwerp in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 5 to 7 October 2015. The workshop was officially opened by the Vice-Chancellor of Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
A total of 54 delegates (participants and facilitators) participated in the workshop. Participants included: representatives of the Ministry of Health of Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe; a representative of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education of Zimbabwe; and WHO representatives of Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Facilitators were from: WHO, Gavi, South African Medical Research Council and academia (University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Free State, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of Antwerp).
The objectives of the workshop were to:
- Promote successful and effective introduction of HPV vaccination and other adolescent health interventions in the southern African region;
- Create a multi-disciplinary resourceful team of experts to support and advocate for the introduction of HPV vaccines and other adolescent health interventions in the southern African region; and
- Increase synergy between academics, educators and Ministries of Health to revive and strengthen school-based health programmes as delivery platforms of adolescent immunisation services in the southern African region.
The first day of the workshop comprised of presentations highlighting key aspects of cervical cancer, HPV screening, HPV vaccines, adolescent health interventions, delivery platform for HPV vaccination, and effective communication strategies for building public trust in HPV vaccination.
The second day of the workshop focused on country presentations which were grouped in three sessions: (a) countries with a national HPV vaccination programme; (b) countries with a demonstration project; (c) countries planning for HPV vaccine introduction.
During the third day of the workshop country group presentations were made, highlighting for each country the strengths, gaps and challenges based on the feedback received during the individual country presentations on the second day. Countries also identified opportunities to collaborate in assisting each other in successful implementation of HPV vaccination and other adolescent health services. The last session of the workshop focused on monitoring and evaluation, the importance of a cancer registry and measuring the impact of HPV vaccination. Closing remarks were given by the South African National Department of Health Chief Director: Child, Youth and School Health, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences of SMU and the Deputy Representative of the Government of Flanders.
The workshop was well appreciated by the participants as proven by the daily evaluations. Providing a forum for the countries to present their current status of HPV vaccination and exchange best practices and challenges, resulted in building an international multi-disciplinary network of experts and in increased ownership of the workshop.