By LOH FOON FONG
KUALA LUMPUR: All 13-year-old girls will be vaccinated against cervical cancer from next year, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The Government had approved the ministry’s proposal and RM150mil would be spent annually on Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for an estimated 300,000 girls in the country, he added.
“The vaccination is likely to be carried out in schools but we have not finalised the details yet. As each girl needs three doses of vaccination, it will be easier if it is done in schools,” said Lai.
After the first vaccination, the second dose would be administered in the second month and the third in the sixth month, he said.
The vaccination is not compulsory but is offered to all. In the past, all vaccinations offered by the Government were well-received, according to the Ministry.
Liow said the HPV vaccination was reported to be 98% effective against type 16 and 18 of the virus, the types that were common among Malaysians.
“It costs the Government RM382mil annually to treat cervical cancer but to vaccinate, it costs RM150mil,” he said after the launch of the Crisis Relief Squad of MCA mobile clinic and Health Awareness Campaign yesterday.
Liow said the World Health Organisation had reported that the vaccine would reduce cancer risk by 70%.
Currently, it cost RM1,200 for three doses per person and the Ministry hoped to negotiate with drug companies to lower it to RM500.
Liow said 2,000 new cases of cervical cancer were detected each year; 16.1 out of every 100,000 population.
In 2006, 23.2 per 100,000 Chinese women in Malaysia suffered from cervix cancer. The rate was 16.4 among Indians and 8.7 among Malays, he said.
The Malaysian Chinese and Indian women had higher risk of the cancer compared with the Chinese and Indians in Singapore, he added.
He also said that more Malaysian women must have pap smears done for early detection because only 43% of them were doing so.
Comment from Leslie
THE HPV VACCINE DOES NOT PREVENT CERVICAL CANCER. IT ONLY PROTECTS AGAINST FOUR STRAINS OUT OF 99 PLUS STRAINS THAT MAY CAUSE CERVICAL CANCER…..AND EVEN THAT IS DUBIOUS SINCE SOME GIRLS ARE PRESENTING CERVICAL LESIONS TWO YEARS AFTER RECEIVING THE VACCINE….. Merck Marketing changed their message to preventing cervical cancer somewhere over the last month….methinks it is a scare tacket to increase sales. Up until last month the vaccine was not promoted as a cervical cancer vaccine.