MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) will be pushing in the following months the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccination of grade 4 female children to protect them from any probable occurrence of cervical cancer in the future.
According to DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin, the HPV immunization will be undertaken among grade four girls who are nine years old in selected public schools in the 20 poorest provinces in the country.
The program targeting the grade 4 children in the poorest provinces was revealed in a discussion on myths and misconceptions about vaccines dubbed as “Usapang Bakuna” held on Tuesday at the Museum Café in Ayala Museum, Makati City.
The dialogue was spearhead by the Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), an American Pharmaceutical Company, and attended by pediatricians who are members of the Philippine Pediatric Society.
“This HPV immunization is actually one of the innovations which the DOH will be doing in the next months. It will not be on a nationwide basis because our funds are limited as of the moment. This will cover the 20 poorest provinces in the country,” said Garin.
HPV vaccine is a form of protection against sexually transmitted virus that eventually leads to the disease that most women fear — cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide and even in the Philippines.
Secretary Garin said that since it is preventable by vaccine through HPV, there is a need to protect the young people hoping to have brighter future, especially in the poorest sector which cannot afford it.
She added that the disease is usually detected at 40-45 years age bracket, where a woman can still be productive and having cancer brings financial difficulty, especially for the poor family who practically pawns and sells everything in times of dire financial need.
The DOH chief said that giving the poor children the HPV vaccine is a way of ensuring that such illness will not be incurred by the targeted children so that their chance to become productive members of society will not be hindered.
She added that the immunization program will be done in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
According to her, the immunization will not be mandatory as written consents of the parents will be secured.
She said that there is a need for people to fully understand how the immunization can help the poor children prevent themselves from having the life-threatening disease of cervical cancer.
Around 300,000 children in the 20 provinces will be the initial target of the HPV immunization.
The budget for it will come from the Sin Tax revenues.