Save female lives... provide FREE vaccines for cervical cancer
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How lethal is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is the leading cancer in Indian women and the second most common cancer in women worldwide.
Its the second most common cancer in India, after breast cancer. In India, 132,000 new cervical cancer cases and 74,000 deaths occur each year, with Indian women facing a 2.5% cumulative lifetime risk and 1.4% cumulative death risk from cervical cancer.
Unlike many other cancers, cervical cancer occurs early and strikes at the productive period of a woman's life. The incidence rises in 30–34 years of age and peaks at 55–65 years, with a median age of 38 years (age 21–67 years)
Do we have a preventive effective vaccine? YES
Prevention by vaccination is emerging as the most effective option and two vaccines are already available.
Two vaccines licensed globally are available in India; (Gardasil marketed by Merck) and (Cervarix marketed by Glaxo Smith Kline).
The World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for all girls between 9 and 13 years, because the vaccine is highly immunogenic at this age.
The HPV vaccine isn't intended to replace Screening Pap smear tests. Screening is “secondary prevention.” In India, vast majority of women remain unscreened and present with invasive cancer at a very late stage. Although individual screening may involve low cost in short term, a mass screening program may cost substantially.
HPV vaccine is considered to be “Primary Prevention,” thereby reducing likelihood of persistent HPV infection to cancer. The economic and social cost of cervical cancer far exceeds that of vaccination. In countries like US and Australia, this vaccine has been mandatory, which shows its importance.
For every 280 girls immunised, one case of cervical cancer can be saved !
What's the hurdle?
The primary obstacle to HPV vaccination is financial (currently costs whopping ~ Rs 8000-12000 for full course so only who can afford can take it) . Because of the high cost of the present vaccines, affordability and accessibility of these vaccines is a major concern for a mass vaccination program in developing countries like India.
Secondary issues relate to lack of awareness about the issue, not many are even aware of the availability of these vaccines.
Thirdly, bureaucratic committees studying/analysing about the pros and cons about these vaccines is delaying the decision to roll out the vaccine as part of the universal immunization plan. As have been proven since 2006, the HPV Vaccine is safe and does not cause side effects as more than 200 million vaccinations have been administered in over 80 countries to date.
What can the Government of India do?
Rollout a mandatory mass cancer-cervix prevention program through introduction of HPV vaccines to girls age 9-13 and purchase the vaccine in bulk for substantially lowering the costs.
Also Indian manufacturers be encouraged/incentivised to manufacture HPV vaccine locally.
Create awareness programs thru public heath centres, social media and schools.
Let's join hand to save lives!
sources of information:
Research Article by K. Kaarthigeyan, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385284/
Research Article by Sujata Dalvi, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4199431/
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