A Vigorous New Push to Protect Young People From Cancers

26 January 2023

A major and innovative two-year project to get more young people in Europe vaccinated against the often deadly human papilloma virus (HPV) is officially launched today.

Kick off Protect News Item Photo 2

 The PROTECT-EUROPE (protect-europe.org) project, largely funded by EU4Health, will gather and disseminate the latest evidence on how healthcare and public health professionals can promote HPV vaccination to parents and young people.

Cancers of the cervix, anus, vulva, vagina, penis and throat are all caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. Everyone is at risk of exposure. But vaccinating young people before they become sexually active can protect them. Unfortunately, that message is too often drowned out by misinformation and anti-vaccination campaigns.

Under the leadership of the ECO, and with the active participation of 33 partner organisations and young people themselves, PROTECT-EUROPE will provide Member States with detailed guidance on:

  • How healthcare professionals can communicate effectively face-to-face withyoung people and their parents/caregivers
  • Delivering more effective public health messaging on HPV vaccination aimed at young people and their parents/caregivers
  • Other innovations that could improve uptake (e.g., bundling adolescent vaccines)

A key element of the project is ensuring that boys as well girls are offered – and accept – the vaccine. Gender-neutral HPV vaccination is one of the flagship commitments of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

Commenting on today’s launch, Alin Mituta MEP said: "HPV causes 5% of cancers worldwide. That need not be. More and better communication is paramount, and PROTECT-EUROPE will help provide that. It is hard to overstate the importance of this new initiative and why I have worked closely with ECO to launch it. I look forward to further collaboration on such matters, especially as I am now part of ECO’s National and European Parliamentarians for Cancer Action."

Building on this, Andreas Charalambous, ECO President said: "We all want to prevent cancer. Rarely, however, do we have a vaccine that will actually do that – and against multiple cancers – saving lives. It is essential to do everything in our power to get that message across and challenge the skeptics head on based on the wealth of scientific evidence we have at hand. PROTECT-EUROPE is the dynamic approach that we desperately need."