Interim Budget 2024: Docs hails govt’s push on cervical cancer vax for girls

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Doctors on Thursday hailed the government for promoting cervical cancer vaccination for girls between 9-14 years of age.

Presenting the Interim Budget on Thursday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government will encourage vaccination for girls in the age group of 9 to 14 years for prevention of cervical cancer.

“The Government will encourage this vaccination among the eligible categories,” she added.

Cervical cancer is associated with the human papillomavirus and vaccines can prevent this. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among Indian women. So a vaccine that protects against cervical cancer is a very important life-saving measure against this disease.

“I believe that it is a good call and a much-needed step considering the rising cases of cervical cases among youths in India,” Dr. Anuradha Vinod, Consultant, Paediatrics, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru, told IANS.

“The vaccine has proven high efficacy rates in the prevention of cervical cancer in individuals who have received the vaccine compared to those who have not received the vaccine,” she added.

HPV vaccines have a success rate of 88 per cent. “The vaccination schedule we give is before 15 birthday 2 doses and after 15 through 26 yrs 3 doses. The preteen age group is important as giving the vaccine before exposure to the Human papillomavirus is important.

“HPV vaccine aids in the primary prevention of cervical cancer which prevents the risk of HPV infection which is the cause of cervical cancers. It is most effective when given to adolescents between 9 to 14 years of age,” Dr Rama Joshi , Principal Director , Department of Gynae Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Indian women accounting for about 18 per cent of all cancers occurring in this demographic group. India accounts for 1 in every 5 or 21 per cent cervical cancer cases, according to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

The cancer also causes almost one in every four or 23 per cent deaths in the country.

According to the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), the doctors are now advising cervical vaccine vaccines even for adolescent boys to prevent penile cancer risks later. Women between 27 to 45 years of age can also get the HPV vaccine, however getting it administered at these ages, reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine and should be taken after proper consultation with a gynaecologist.

“The cervical cancer vaccine prevents and guards the women against the HPV virus-induced carcinoma cervix. We are happy that the government is making strong efforts towards cancer prevention and included cervical cancer vaccination for girls between 9-14 years of age,” Dr Sunny Jain, Sr Consultant & HOD – Oncology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad told IANS.

Currently, there are different types of HPV vaccines that protect against different types of infections. American multinational Merck’s HPV shot Gardasil is also available in the market at Rs 10,850. Another product Cervarix by GSK was withdrawn in India in 2022. India also has an indigenous vaccine for cervical cancer, manufactured by Serum Institute Of India. But it is priced at Rs 2,200.

“The vaccines are priced high given their efficacy so measures to get all preteens immunised should be also looked into. I hope that under this programme, the vaccine will be provided at subsidised rates, thereby, helping India to reduce the burden of cervical cases,” Dr. Vinod said.



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