Bangladesh to roll out free HPV vaccines against cervical cancer in September

| Updated: February 20, 2023 21:26:58

Bangladesh to roll out free HPV vaccines against cervical cancer in September

The government will roll out free vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) to help prevent deaths from cervical cancer in September.

Girls aged between 10 and 15 will get the vaccines initially, a bdnews24.com report says.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque revealed the plan at the secretariat in Dhaka on Monday, noting that the country detects a growing number of patients with the disease.

"We have a nationwide screening programme for cervical cancer and efforts are ongoing to strengthen the process."

"HPV vaccines are the only ones that can help prevent this disease. We will launch a national HPV vaccine programme in September. We believe this programme will reduce cervical cancer by a huge margin,” Maleque said.

Women as young as nine years can take HPV vaccines, according to the World Health Organization. The second dose is given one month after the first, and the third is provided six months after the second.

According to the WHO, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women worldwide with an estimated 604 000 new cases in 2020. Of the estimated 342 000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2020, about 90 percent of these occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In Bangladesh, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer among females. Around 11,956 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed each year and approximately 6,582 deaths occur.

The health ministry introduced HPV vaccines with the help of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations in 2016 for a two-year trial in Gazipur.

Maleque said Bangladesh is also detecting many breast cancer cases, but there is a lack of equipment for the diagnosis of the disease.

He said the government is planning to set up at least one mammography unit for breast cancer tests in every district.

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