The National, Wednesday July 18th, 2012
By SALLY TIWARI
A NEW vaccine that prevents cervical cancer in women is now available at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby. Hospital head of obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Mathias Sapuri, said the vaccine, Gardasil, prevented against human papilloma virus (HPV), which caused cervical cancer and could be treated if detected early.Sapuri, who was instrumental in bringing the vaccine into the country, said women between the ages of nine and 26 could be vaccinated.
“If we give it to girls between nine and 26 years old, we’ll not only prevent them from cervical cancer but prevent 90% of warts that come with sexually transmitted infections,” Sapuri said.
“Cervical cancer is the leading cancer among women in PNG, claiming the lives of 3,500 women every year.”
He said the vaccine cost K350 per dose at the hospital but should be made available throughout the public system.
“I encourage the public health system to take up this vaccine because it costs less to vaccinate against cancer than to treat it,” he said.A female is expected to receive three doses, with the second dose to be given two months after the first, followed by the third dose six months later. Sapuri said HPV was spread by sex and because the vaccine could not prevent all causes of cervical cancer it was wise for women to continue regular screening such as pap smear tests.He said the vaccine was used worldwide and was free in the United States and Australia.
He said the vaccine targeted four strains of HPV responsible for cervical cancer and genital warts.
“HPV strains 16 and 18 cause 70% of all cervical cancer, while HPV 6 and 11 account for 90% of genital warts,” Sapuri said.“I call on the health department and the government to make this vaccine available in the public health system if they are serious about the health of women in this country,” Sapuri said.