The Managing Director of MSD Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Zweli Bashman has emphasized on the critical importance of vaccinating both males and females against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) to combat cervical cancer effectively.

According to him, there is a need for a comprehensive approach to HPV vaccination, recognizing that the virus is not gender-specific and can affect both men and women.

HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer, and vaccination has proven to be a powerful tool in preventing the infection. While the focus has traditionally been on vaccinating young girls, Mr. Bashman pointed out that including boys in the vaccination programs can significantly enhance the overall effectiveness of the campaign.

In a recent interview at the MSD and AHB Cervical Cancer Policy Roundtable, he identified that this approach not only protects boys from potential HPV-related diseases but also helps reduce the transmission of the virus, thereby offering broader community protection. “The fight against cervical cancer requires a holistic strategy, by vaccinating both boys and girls, we can achieve a higher level of herd immunity, drastically reducing the prevalence of HPV infections and, consequently, the incidence of cervical cancer.”

This advocacy is backed by extensive research and recommendations from global health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO). Studies have shown that HPV vaccination in males can prevent genital warts and anal cancers, which are also caused by the virus. Moreover, vaccinating boys contributes to protecting their future partners from HPV-related diseases, creating a ripple effect of protection within the community.

The roundtables brought together over 40 stakeholders, including policymakers in cervical cancer screening and prevention, civil society organizations, health practitioners, academia, and public and private health payors. Participants collectively shared their expertise and insights on innovative approaches to cervical cancer policies and sustainable financing for immunisation. Building on the success of these discussions, Africa Health Business (AHB) and MSD are committed to continuing this multisectoral collaboration.

About MSD

MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of their mission to save and improve lives. MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat disease that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases, and emerging animal diseases. MSD partners with multiple cervical cancer stakeholders across our continent, and in Ghana they currently support the City Cancer Challenge’s health systems strengthening activities in Kumasi, amongst other initiatives.

About Africa Health Business (AHB)

AHB is a Pan-African advisory and consulting firm aiming to increase equitable access to healthcare in Africa. With a focus on the African continent and via private sector engagement, AHB offers market access and implementation support, serve as a health ecosystem enabler, and provide stakeholder engagement services.