‘Cheaper to prevent cervical cancer than treat it’ – Health Minister promotes HPV vaccine


It is cheaper help persons protect themselves from cervical cancer with a free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine than it is to treat the cancer, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony said on Tuesday.

So he urged eligible persons to take the HPV vaccine and help protect themselves.

“This is preventable by a vaccine then we want to make sure that every child in this country is protected,” Dr Anthony said.

Comparatively, treatment requires surgery and radiation – procedures which Dr. Anthony said are quite costly.

The Health Minister spoke at the launch of the HPV Scientific Conference at Pegasus Corporate Suites on Tuesday. There, he noted that cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among women.

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cells multiply uncontrollably and develops in the neck of the uterus or cervix.

At the two days HPV Scientific Conference, healthcare operators and other stakeholders will be engaged on the seriousness of the cancer, preventing the ailment and strategize to get more vaccination uptake in the country.

As the Health Ministry pushes vaccination use, Dr. Anthony said there will also be intense training on mitigating the spread of misinformation and myths about cervical cancer and the vaccines. One myth, he said, is that the vaccine causes infertility.

Children from age nine to 17 and adults from 18 to 45 can receive the HPV vaccine. To get vaccinated, persons are encouraged to visit health posts across the country.

Though the cancer is more prevalent in women, boys and men can also get cervical cancer.

In Guyana, vaccination uptake in children is considerably high with about 18 antigens or vaccines available. And the track record is between 98-100 per cent overall uptake. Dr. Anthony, however, noted that the HPV vaccine uptake is low and the ministry is hoping to put more emphasis on the seriousness of this vaccine.

“We don’t understand the implications or how this is going to help people and if we don’t understand that then maybe that’s why we are lagging,” the minister said.

At this time, the vaccines are added to the list of pharmaceuticals under the ministry’s healthcare programme in schools.

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