By Charina Clarisse Echaluce
More provinces will benefit in the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) vaccination program against cervical cancer, which kills more than 12 women daily and is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among Filipino women.
As part of its plan to curb the burden of cervical cancer – which is a preventable disease – in the country, the DOH announced the expansion of its Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization program. The program will soon cover more provinces, in order to increase the number of beneficiaries – nine-year-old Grade 4 girls in public schools – of its free HPV vaccines.
“[Ngayon] 46 provinces na ang target, dati 20 provinces lang…. [Ang aming mga kinonsidera ay] number one, poorest provinces sila, ‘yong access sa healthcare service medyo mahirap for poor kababaihan. Pangalawa, new cases na rin base sa datos (Now, we are targeting 46 provinces, unlike before when only 20 provinces were chosen. We gave consideration to the poorest provinces. We also based the selection on the number new cases, based on data),” said Dr. Clarito U. Cairo, who is the DOH Medical Officer 4 and program manager of cancer prevention and control.
To note, the vaccine protects a girl against the four strains of HPV. Nearly 100 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by the HPV.
The health department has been reiterating that cervical cancer is a preventable disease.
“The tragedy of cervical cancer deaths is that this cancer is preventable and treatable. In fact, in developed countries, cervical cancer is much less common because screening and vaccination are well established,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial noted earlier.
The DOH is also urging women to get screened for cervical cancer.