A vaccine given to girls to protect them from a virus that causes cervical cancer is an "essential" health tool and access to it should be expanded as quickly as possible, especially in the poorest countries, said Monday. experts in oncology.

Figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (IARC) have shown that about 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer have been diagnosed in the world in 2018, making it the fourth most common cancer in women.

Every year, more than 310,000 women die from cervical cancer, and the vast majority of deaths occur in poorer countries, where vaccination rates for human papillomavirus (HPV) are low.

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In wealthy countries, some anti-vaccine activists also persuade parents to refuse shooting for their children, leaving them at risk, the IARC said.

"Unfounded rumors about HPV vaccines continue to delay or unnecessarily prevent the intensification of vaccination," IARC Director Elisabete Weiderpass said in a statement.

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She said the IARC was committed to fighting cervical cancer and "unequivocally confirms the effectiveness and safety" of HPV vaccines.

Britain's GSK is producing an HPV vaccine called Cervarix, which targets two strains of the virus, while Merck is implementing a competing vaccine, Gardasil, targeting four strains.

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In a separate statement to WHO last week, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance also called for increased support for HPV vaccines, saying it aims to immunize 40 million girls in poor countries against HPV. by 2020.

This would prevent about 900,000 deaths, GAVI said.

IARC said reducing the cost of vaccines in the poorest countries would play a vital role in improving access to these vaccines. She said she was working with the generic drug manufacturer Serum Institute of India to develop an HPV vaccine that "could provide a high quality alternative at a lower cost."