February 19. 2010 7:32PM GMT
ABU DHABI // A programme to vaccinate young women against cervical cancer is being considered by the National Immunisation Committee (NIC).
The Gardasil vaccine is already licensed, but only available to patients who pay for it privately at a cost of up to Dh2,000 (US$540).
A national programme could make it more affordable and run alongside public awareness campaigns, officials said.
Dr Mahmoud Fikri, the chairman of the committee and a senior member of the Ministry of Health, said such a move was being considered by a newly formed technical team.
“A task force has been formulated and will prepare a technical paper which will be presented to the National Immunisation Committee. [They will] examine the new vaccinations and prevention procedures,” he said. “To make it a national programme, the committee has to approve it and be aware of all the facts.”
Dr Fikri said the panel would look at the benefits of making the vaccine more widely available, and would produce a “detailed report about its efficiency, side effects and age categories”.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Emirati women.
According to the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD), about 70 per cent of cases are diagnosed in the late stages, by which time a woman’s chance of survival is much lower.
There is a place for comments on this article. I placed mine – warning of the potential dangers of the vaccine. Will see if it gets published.