Vaccine 32 (2014) 1523–1524

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In 1989, the World Health Organization and the journal Vaccine convened an expert advisory conference in Oxford (UK) entitled “Vaccines for Sexually Transmitted Diseases” [1] to explore the possibilities for vaccination to reduce the major negative impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on global health. The proceedings of this conference described a fledgling recombinant hepatitis B vaccine that had been only minimally implemented, and predicted that development of a protective vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) was unlikely and perhaps should not be pursued [1]. Less than 25 years later, safe and effective vaccines against both infections are major public health success stories. Hepatitis B vaccination has now been incorporated into the national infant immunization programs of 181 countries, and 79% of newborns worldwide have received 3 doses of the vaccine [2]. Millions of hepatitis B virus infections, and resulting deaths from chronic liver disease and cancer, have already been prevented. HPV vaccines, first introduced in 2006, are highly efficacious in preventing HPV types causing 70% of cervical cancers, a disease affecting more than half a million women a year globally. Already showing an impact on HPV prevalence and genital warts in several countries, HPV vaccines are poised to be rolled out on a much larger scale and are expected to avert millions of cervical cancer deaths. Recent global efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health and reduce vaccine-preventable diseases provide a unique opportunity to build on these successes and work toward new STI vaccines, to complement important existing STI prevention efforts such as sexual health education and condom promotion. Following the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which first formally recognized the rights of individuals to both sexual and reproductive health, there have been increasing calls for action to achieve a broad global vision of sexual and reproductive health, including prevention and control of STIs. In 2004, the 57th World Health Assembly approved the Global Reproductive Health Strategy [3], in which STI prevention is one of five core elements. In 2010, the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health built upon this strategy, by including sexual health promotion and STI prevention in a comprehensive package of essential health services for women [4]. At the same time, realizing the full potential of vaccines not only in preventing an estimated 2.5 million childhood deaths each year but also in preventing mortality and morbidity in adolescence and adulthood, the global health community has taken on bold initiatives such as establishment of the GAVI Alliance to accelerate 0264-410X/$ – see front matter © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

uptake of new vaccines in eligible developing countries, and the launch of another critical global health movement: the Decade of Vaccines [5,6]. The vision of the Decade of Vaccines (2011–2020) is a world in which all individuals and communities enjoy lives free from vaccine-preventable diseases. To realize this vision, in 2012 the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan [7], a roadmap to save millions of lives through extending the benefits of vaccination to all people. In addition to ensuring more equitable access and delivery of existing vaccines, the Global Vaccine Action Plan calls for new research to develop the next generation of vaccines and technologies. The confluence of global efforts related to sexual and reproductive health and advancement of vaccines offers a critical new opportunity for STI prevention, and a call to action. The success stories of hepatitis B and HPV vaccine development and uptake can inspire and catalyze development of new vaccines against additional STIs. Sexual and reproductive health and vaccine development are both high on the global health agenda. Now is the time to capitalize on these global efforts and accelerate progress toward new STI vaccines. Disclaimer The authors are staff members of the World Health Organization. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this article and they do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy or views of the World Health Organization. References [1] Meheus A, Spier RE. Vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases: proceedings of the conference ‘Vaccines for Sexually Transmitted diseases’, Oxford, UK, 5–7 April 1989. London: Butterworths; 1989, 315 pp. [2] World Health Organization. Global immunization data—summary: global immunization coverage in 2012. Posted July 2013. Global Immunization Data.pdf [accessed 08.11.13]. [3] World Health Organization—Department of Reproductive Health and Research. Reproductive health strategy to accelerate progress towards the attainment of international development goals and targets. Global strategy adopted by the 57th World Health Assembly; 2004, 36 pp http://whqlibdoc. RHR 04.8.pdf [accessed 08.11.13]. [4] United nations Secretary General. Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; 2010 globalstrategy wch/en/ [accessed 08.11.13]. [5] Decade of Vaccines. [accessed 08.11.13]. [6] Alonso PL, de Quadros CA, Lal AA. Decade of vaccines. Vaccine 2013;31(Suppl. 2):B1–249. [7] Decade of Vaccines—Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011–2020. WHO; 2013. vaccine action plan/GVAP doc 2011 2020/en/index.html [accessed 08.11.13].


Preface / Vaccine 32 (2014) 1523–1524

Marleen Temmerman ∗ Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele Department of Immunization, Vaccines & Biologicals, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

∗ Corresponding author. E-mail address: [email protected] (M. Temmerman)

Available online 28 January 2014


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