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NIH Record  
Vol. LXVII, No. 18
  August 28, 2015
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An African Success Story
Rwandan Health Minister Attributes Nationís Progress to Research, Resilience

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho gives the 2015 Barmes Lecture. She has led Rwanda through remarkable health gains.

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho gives the 2015 Barmes Lecture. She has led Rwanda through remarkable health gains.

Not long ago, Rwanda had one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. Today, this small, rural African country—slightly smaller than the state of Maryland but with nearly double the population—boasts an impressive health record that could be the envy of even the most developed nations. And, all of these remarkable health achievements occurred during the last 2 decades, after genocide ravaged the nation in 1994.

In the past 20 years, life expectancy in Rwanda nearly doubled, maternal mortality dropped by three-quarters and under-5 child mortality decreased by two-thirds. The prevalence of HIV has dropped dramatically, while most who are living with HIV are receiving treatment. Today, more than 90 percent of Rwandans have health insurance coverage. Rwanda also is making great strides in screening and treatment for cancer and non-communicable diseases.


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Screening, Vaccinations Can Reduce Risk of HPV-Associated Cancers

Dr. Doug Lowy

Dr. Doug Lowy

Cancer screenings and vaccination efforts appear to have slowed the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV). NCI acting director Dr. Doug Lowy reported on current success against HPV and outlined promising research on the horizon at the 2015 annual Advances in Cancer Prevention Lecture in Masur Auditorium on July 23. Lowy is also chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology and helped develop the HPV vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Most HPV infections go away on their own. Of more than 150 strains, only a few cause genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus and mouth, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer in women and mouth cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer in men. Two strains, HPV 16 and 18, are responsible for most HPV-associated cancers, Lowy said.


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