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Starting them young in the fight against HPV

Young Filipinas, the future entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, leaders and mothers of families, are prepared early on at school for the path in life that they would choose. This year, schools also become a venue where young girls are protected early on from human papillomavirus (HPV) to assure them of a brighter future without the threat of cervical cancer.
“Our children are an important asset. Every effort should be made to promote their welfare,” said Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, undersecretary of the Department of Health, as he spoke during the inaugural vaccination of the School-Based Immunization Program (SBIP) against HPV that was held at Addition Hills Integrated School in Mandaluyong City. “Vaccination is a basic right and no child should be deprived of this right.”
Including HPV vaccination in DoH’s regular SBIP across the country is supported by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“The Department of Education supports this program because cervical cancer is a major public health concern. Vaccination against HPV remains the primary prevention against cervical cancer,” averred Dr. Maria Corazon Dumlao, chief at the School Health Division, Health and Nutrition Center at DepEd.
Cervical cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Filipino women despite being a vaccine-preventable disease. Making the free immunization more accessible to young girls through their administration in public schools continues to be a priority, as more than 6,000 new cases of cervical cancer are recorded every year.
HPV infection causes more than 90 percent of cervical cancer cases. It can also lead to genital warts, and other malignancies such as anal and oropharynx cancer in both men and women, vaginal and vulvar cancer in women and penile cancer in men.
Under the SBIP against HPV, more parents learn the value of having their daughters vaccinated at a young age through awareness and education seminars that are held before the school asks for their consent. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine used in the SBIP is most recommended to be administered to girls aged 9 to 13 years of age because they still have optimum immune resistance to the infection.
“A foremost thrust of this program is to prevent unnecessary suffering caused by a vaccine-preventable disease such as cervical cancer. The school-based approach enables us to provide vaccination service to a catch population, and achieve a high coverage with minimal dropout rate,” explained Bayugo.
The HPV and cervical cancer prevention initiative is part of the DoH’s expanded national immunization program which now includes 50 provinces and cities across the country.
In photo are Bayugo, Mandaluyong Rep. Queenie Gonzales and Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita Abalos during the press conference of the school-based HPV vaccination.

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