MSD

Protecting 400,000 boys per year from HPV

Challenge

Every year HPV causes 7,000 cases of cancer in the UK, which claim the lives of men and women alike. The most dangerous strains of HPV are vaccine-preventable, yet for the last ten years only girls were included in the HPV national immunisation programme (NIP). This left up to 400,000 boys per year in the UK without direct protection.
MHP Communications and MSD collaborated with a range of stakeholders to successfully contest this inequality and persuade the Government to implement Gender Neutral Vaccination (GNV).

APPROACH

This involved launching a report on Milestones in HPV Prevention in Parliament to bring together stakeholders including third party organisations who in turn also campaigned for change. This launch was the catalyst for a sustained programme of Parliamentary activity that mounted pressure on the Government. It also had highly tangible outcomes, such as the report being cited in Parliament by the Life Sciences Minister, who ultimately played a key role in the decision.

IMPACT

The campaign began from a difficult position, where the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC’s) relevant committee stated that it was probably not going to recommend the implementation of GNV, and DHSC said it would follow this advice. The community had one ‘last ditch’ attempt to encourage them to reverse this recommendation, before the issue would be most likely considered closed.

The eventual reversal was one of the most significant health policy U-turns of recent years. Public Health England now predict that the extension of the NIP will prevent around 29,000 cancers in men by 2058, while also increasing protection for women. It is for this reason that GNV was voted as the sixth most significant public health achievement of the 21st century by Royal Society for Public Health members.

Our campaign also won the ‘Excellence in Communications for Payers and Policy Makers’ category at the Communiqué awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for a similar PRCA award.