300 studes get final HPV vaccination

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Thursday, April 3, 2014


MORE than 300 girls from 13 public schools in the Cordillera Administrative Region received today their third and final dose of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine to help curb the incidence of various HPV-related diseases, including cervical cancer.

The school-based HPV vaccination initiative is spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH), together with the Department of Education, (DepEd), the Local Government of Baguio City and global healthcare company, MSD.

The girls, aged 10 to 14 years old, were given their final dose at Lucban Elementary School Thursday as part of the broader school-based HPV vaccination that was also held in Region VII.

These students, with the support of their parents who gave their consent for their children to be included in the initiative, are now part of the almost 9,000 girls in the two regions who are protected from certain HPV strains, which may lead to diseases including genital warts and cervical cancer.

Last week, more than 8,000 girls from Cebu City, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Talisay, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu also got their third and final dose. First and second doses were given in September and November last year.

This public-private partnership was launched in 2013 due to the increasing number of cervical cancer patients in the Philippines and worldwide. It provides a local experience in introducing HPV vaccination using a school-based approach.

Merck medical Liaison Officer Dr. Marvin Pangilinan said early adolescence is the best time to get vaccinated since there is no exposure yet to the virus. It is also at this time when the body mounts the highest immune response to vaccination.

Pangilinan added the HPV vaccination has been introduced in over 125 countries around the world, and governments have included it in their national immunization programs.

Cervical cancer, which is known to be caused by HPV in over 99% of cases, is the second most common cancer in women globally. It remains a public health concern threatening the welfare and well-being of women and the population as a whole, he added.

In the Philippines, studies show cervical cancer is the third leading cause of mortality among females claiming the lives of 12 women every day.

This makes cervical cancer control as one of the major priorities of DOH through its National Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Several strategies are being done by the program geared towards the prevention of women from developing cervical cancer, including raising awareness on the disease and advocating regular cervical screening.

According to the Filipino Cancer Registry 2005 annual report, the incidence of cervical cancer remained stable from 1980 to 2005. In 2005, there were 7,277 new cases of cervical cancer with 3,807 reported deaths. This brings mortality rate to 1 per 10,000 women.

Aside from cervical cancer, HPV can cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and cancers of the head and neck, as well as genital warts in both men and women.

Easily transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, HPV infection can be prevented through maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular cervical cancer screening, but vaccination is a means of primary prevention.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 04, 2014.

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