Monday, September 28, 2009

Cervical cancer vaccinations for all girls
Updated: Friday September 25, 2009
Cervical cancer vaccination for all girls

(pic: CFL)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will provide annual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination against cervical cancer or cancer of the cervix to an estimated 300,000 13-year-old girls in Malaysia beginning next year.

It is up to the girls to take advantage of the vaccine.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said RM150mil would be spent annually to make the vaccine available to the girls.

“The vaccination is likely to be carried out in school but we have not finalised the details yet,” he said.

Since each girl needs three doses of vaccination, it would be easier if it were done in school, he added.

After the first vaccination, the second one is taken at the second month while the third at the sixth month.

The HPV vaccination was reported to be 98% effective against type 16 and 18 of the virus, the types that were common among Malaysians, he said.

“It costs the government RM382mil annually to treat cervical cancer but vaccination against it costs only RM150mil,” he said after the launch of the Crisis Relief Squad of MCA mobile clinic and Health Awareness Campaign Friday.

Liow said the World Health Organisation had reported that the vaccine would reduce the cancer risk by 70%.

Currently, the vaccine costs RM1,200 for three doses per person.

The Ministry hoped to negotiate with drug companies for as low as RM500 person as there would be economies of scale and others seeking the jabs in the private sector would benefit too, he said.

Liow said 2,000 new cases of cervical cancer were detected each year; 16.1 out of 100,000 population.

In 2006, 23.2 per 100,000 Chinese women in Malaysia suffered from the cancer while the Indians recorded 16.4 percent and Malays 8.7 percent, he said.

The Malaysian Chinese and Indian women had higher risk of cervical cancer compared with the Chinese in Indians in Singapore, he added.

He also said that Malaysian women must go for pap smears for early detection because only 43 percent of them go for pap smears and this was one of the main reason why many went for treatment too late.

In July, Liow said his ministry was conducting a preliminary study on the impact of providing HPV for 12 to 13-year-old girls, as well as the economic and financial constraints on the Government.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the HPV could help to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by at least 70%.

Cervical cancer was the second most common cancer among women in Malaysia after breast cancer, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said in July.

Each day, an average of four women are diagnosed with it.

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