Cervical cancer rates are going up as more women than ever are surviving into middle age in poor countries.
At a conference organised by the UN Development Fund for Women in Brussels, Belgium, last week, one of the companies, Merck, pledged to give enough vaccine to treat a million women in the poorest countries over the next five years.
A course of vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of the majority of cases, is about 360 dollars in the US, reports New Scientist.
Out of the 250,000 women killed by cervical cancer annually, 80 per cent belong to poor nations. In developed countries, the screening to catch the cancer early has cut death rates.
The conference urged participants to develop more screening techniques in poor nations.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, and so the vaccine is targeted at young girls who are not yet sexually active.