From 14 to 16 October 2018, the Workshop on "Strengthening national teams of experts to support HPV vaccine introduction in Eastern Mediterranean countries" was organised in Marrakech, Morocco, by the University Cadi Ayyad, SOMIPEV, and NESI/University of Antwerp. The workshop received support from WHO/EMRO, GHD/EMPHNET and the Ministry of Health of Oman.
The workshop explored the current status of HPV vaccine introduction in Eastern Mediterranean countries, gaps in information about HPV disease burden in the region, and the role of NITAGs in new vaccine introduction. The workshop comprised of interactive presentations, round table discussions, country presentations, including sharing of experiences and best practices, and group work.
The key target group included representatives of: Expanded Programme on Immunisation; National Immunisation Technical Advisory Groups; Adolescent Health Programme; Non-communicable Disease Programme; School Health Programme; National and international immunisation partners; and other relevant stakeholders.
The objectives of the workshop included:
- To discuss the burden of HPV related diseases, especially cervical cancer, in the Eastern Mediterranean Region;
- To discuss the available HPV vaccines and their use in national immunisation programmes;
- To discuss potential adolescent health interventions to be delivered alongside HPV vaccination;
- To discuss optimal communication strategies for the introduction of HPV vaccination;
- To exchange lessons learnt and best practices regarding new vaccine introduction, especially HPV vaccine, and adolescent health services among participating countries;
- To strengthen national teams of experts in the participating countries to make evidence-based recommendations and decisions to support and advocate for the introduction of HPV vaccination;
- To strengthen the international community to further stimulate discussion and research on cervical cancer, HPV vaccination and adolescent health.
The workshop was attended by 57 delegates, including participants and facilitators. Nominated delegates were from the Ministry of Health and/or NITAG members from the following countries: Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates. Other participants came from academia, national and international organisations, International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Islamic Development Bank, and industry.
Facilitators were from: Cadi Ayyad University, SOMIPEV, GHD/EMPHNET, MoH Oman, WHO/EMRO, WHO/IARC, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Gavi, WHO/Morocco, NESI/University of Antwerp.
Presentations highlighted key aspects on burden of disease, cervical cancer screening, update on HPV vaccines and cost-effectiveness, delivery platform for HPV vaccination, and effective communication strategies for building public trust in HPV vaccination. The role of the NITAGs in the decision-making process for HPV vaccine introduction was stressed. Experiences of HPV vaccine introduction from other regions were shared by delegates from Indonesia and Senegal.
Two round table discussions addressed: (1) Overcoming hurdles for HPV vaccine introduction and cervical cancer screening, focusing on socio-cultural and religious challenges; and (2) HPV data required to make a decision to introduce HPV vaccine; and monitoring HPV vaccination coverage.
During the final session of the workshop, group work was conducted, addressing the following issues: (a) Status of decision making about HPV vaccine introduction in the participating countries; (b) Any needs for operational research to support the decision-making; (c) Technical and financial support that might be required from partners. Recommendations were made on how to advance the decision-making process for HPV vaccine introduction in the participating countries.
A short workshop summary has been published in the WHO Global Immunization News; November 2018.