The symposium “Strengthening HPV vaccination and adolescent health programmes in Africa” was organised by SAVIC/SMU, SA-MRC and NESI/University of Antwerp from 21 to 22 November 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A total of 87 delegates (participants and facilitators) participated in the Symposium, including: Representatives from 16 countries of the Eastern and Southern African Region: Angola (1 academic), Botswana (3 MoH), Ethiopia (2 MoH), Malawi (3 MoH), Mauritius (3 MoH), Mozambique (3 MoH), Namibia (4 MoH), Rwanda (1 WHO), Seychelles (3 MoH), South Africa (2 MoH), South Sudan (3 MoH), Swaziland (3 MoH, 1 WHO), Tanzania (3 MoH), Uganda (3 MoH), Zambia (3 MoH), and Zimbabwe (2 MoH, 1 MoE). Additional delegates were from the pharmaceutical industry.
Facilitators were from: WHO/AFRO, WHO/South Africa, WHO/IARC, Gavi, SA-MRC, Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and academia (University of the Free State, SMU, University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, NESI/University of Antwerp).
The objectives of the symposium were to:
- Discuss recent advances in HPV vaccines and their use.
- Discuss adolescent health interventions to be delivered alongside HPV vaccination.
- Exchange lessons learnt and best practices regarding HPV vaccination and adolescent health services among participating countries.
- Strengthen a multi-disciplinary team of experts to support and advocate for the introduction of HPV vaccination and other adolescent health interventions in the African Region.
Of the 16 countries present, six had introduced the HPV vaccine nationwide. Seychelles and South Africa shared their overall experience, best practices and challenges with the introduction of the HPV vaccine, while Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda focused on monitoring and evaluation of their HPV vaccination programmes. Mauritius gave an update on their recent HPV vaccine introduction. Three countries (Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania) gave updates on their respective HPV vaccine demonstration projects. Zimbabwe gave a comprehensive overview focusing on integrating other adolescent health interventions alongside HPV vaccination, while Zambia and Ethiopia shared their experiences and best practices regarding information, education, and communication for building public trust in HPV vaccination. Namibia and Swaziland are planning for HPV vaccine introduction in 2017 and communicated their respective introduction plans.
There was also a lively interaction between the different speakers and the country delegates, and this was especially highlighted during the two round table discussions on (1) “Overcoming hurdles for HPV vaccination introduction and cervical cancer screening,” and (2) “Research opportunities on HPV vaccination and adolescent health.”
The participants completed daily evaluation forms, rating both the scientific part (presentations, round table discussion) of the symposium, as well as the administrative part (organisation, documents, accommodation, etc.). The overall scientific content of the symposium was rated 86%; facilitation 83%; and practical organisation 86%.
Some quotes from the evaluation forms included: “Very good symposium, good and well organized symposium, appreciated the exchange from different countries,” and “Excellent facilitation of well-prepared presentations and great engagements. Countries have put in a lot of efforts, great coordination and management of organisation.”