Low HPV vaccine uptake: Health Ministry to undertake robust education campaign
Eleven years after the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer was introduced in Guyana, its low uptake will see the Ministry of Health ramping up the vaccination programme.
Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony recently said preventative efforts, treatment options and awareness outreaches will be focused on next year.
Dr Anthony told the News Room that the uptake of the vaccine stands at 30 per cent since 2012 when the vaccines were introduced in Guyana. The Minister said this is concerning and he hopes a robust awareness plan will lead to more persons taking the vaccine in 2024.
“We need people to talk about this and talk about the benefits and how this would work and if we do this very well, potentially we can eliminate cervical cancer from Guyana,” Dr Anthony said.
Dr Anthony said the country is also following evidence-based advice to increase the age and doses to ensure more persons can become vaccinated.
“We want to rekindle a programme next year where we encourage more people to take the vaccine.
“Traditionally this vaccine was only available for children aged between nine to 14 but the Centre for Disease Control has since expanded the age…we have accordingly used that scientific evidence to expand who can get it,” Dr Anthony said.
Persons who are sexually active can also conduct pap smears, HPV testing or visual inspection with aesthetic acid to check for abnormal cells.
Vaccination to prevent the virus from developing into cancer is important because after prevention, the other option is surgery.
Dr Anthony said the aim is to buildout a comprehensive programme to ensure persons can live longer, healthy lives.