Global HPV Consortium Partner Spotlight

Advocating for Public Health Worldwide: the World Federation of Public Health Associations

As the Secretariat for the Global HPV Consortium, Sabin Vaccine Institute is spotlighting the many partners who have come together to work on preventing HPV and eliminating cervical cancer.

The World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), a founding partner of the Global HPV Consortium, is the only worldwide professional society representing and serving the broad field of public health on an international scale. Formed in 1967, it represents 5 million public health professionals through 139 member associations in 104 countries. Their new Strategic Plan, developed last year, updated their mission to “Protecting people and the planet, preventing diseases, and promoting health, peace, and wellbeing.”

Among WFPHA activities: promoting vaccination for health workers in low- and middle-income countries, oral health for mothers and children, and reversing a downward trend in childhood immunizations in Europe that’s leading to outbreaks of preventable diseases.

WFPHA President Luis Eugenio De Souza

Here WFPHA President Luis Eugenio De Souza, a professor at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil,  and Dr. Marta Lomazzi, Executive Manager of the WFPHA and lead of Immunization programs in Geneva, Switzerland, talk about the group’s involvement with the Consortium and the hundreds of local events for Global Public Health Week coming April 8-12.

Q: Why did the WFPHA join the Global HPV Consortium?

Luis: After access to potable water, vaccines are the second most powerful tool for protecting public health and preventing disease. Cervical cancer is a very big problem for poorer populations, even in middle income countries like here in Brazil. We have a part of the population that can buy all the vaccines, but we’d love to make it universally accessible through public programs. I’ve seen

Dr. Marta Lomazzi

the very strong preliminary evidence that the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer, and this will be very important for future generations.

Marta: The countries most affected by cervical cancer have very limited access to screening and treatment for cervical cancer. This should be changed.

Q: How does the WFPHA help their members advocate for vaccine support?

Luis: Our approach is to provide scientific evidence-based public health knowledge. Countries need to share information so that everyone can see the benefits of an approach or tactic. We disseminate knowledge, translated into common sense language. This is available to everyone on our website. We also work with decision-making political authorities in every country to advise and advocate for programs that work.

Marta: We also help explain why prevention is important. We work at three levels:

  • Educating public health professionals with tools, policies, webinars, infographics and PowerPoints that are free and available on our social media such as YouTube and are translated into Spanish, Portuguese and French.
  • Supporting members as needed in their countries with advocacy and training. We are working with WHO and public health schools to identify skills needed for public health professionals in todays’ complex globalized world.
  • Working with organizations like WHO or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other international partners. We were very active in WHO pandemic treaty discussions.
WFPHA President Luis Eugenio De Souza at Shanghai Medical College in China
Q: Did the pandemic help public health professionals in that people recognized the need for expert guidance?

Luis: Not really. The pandemic response was panic in the first moments and then it went back to neglect. That’s what we’re living with now. For the COVID-19 vaccine, the barriers to access remain. Countries weren’t really able to reach an agreement about how to distribute or manufacture vaccines globally. We need to continue planning.

WFPHA at the University of Guwahati, India
Q: What’s on the horizon for WFPHA?

Luis: We have just approved our strategic plan for the next five years. We have a very comprehensive approach. For example, we participated in COP28 discussing environmental health. We support the Sustainable Health Equity Movement (SHEM). For Global Public Health Week, we are discussing how we can support peace as a prerequisite for health. For me, it is very important to maintain the importance of public health in every setting and to build understanding of why we need public health at every level, including with journalists, influencers, governments and the public.


See how to participate in Global Public Health Week

Read more about the Global HPV Consortium