Young girls will be better protected from cervical cancer, the biggest cancer killer of women in Solomon Islands, after the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to the country yesterday.
The HPV vaccination program was launched by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) at the Multi-purpose Hall in Honiara yesterday.
The HPV infection is very common and it can cause cervical cancer, which affects the cervix.
The vaccine protects against most types of HPV infections and is used in more than 120 countries around the world, including Fiji and Vanuatu.
It has been approved for use by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the World Health Organisation.
Speaking at the vaccine launch, Health Permanent Secretary Dr Tenneth Dalipanda says girls aged nine to 12 years living in Honiara and Isabel Province will be eligible to receive the HPV vaccine this year as part of the first phase of the vaccination program, while plans are underway to introduce it to the rest of the country in future.
He says it is best that the girls are vaccinated well before they start a family.
This is because younger girls tend to develop stronger immunity to HPV than older girls or women.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dalipanda says the Ministry urges all parents of girls aged nine to 12 years in Honiara and Isabel province to ensure their daughter receives two doses of the HPV vaccine, six months apart.
The first dose will be available in schools and health clinics in Honiara and Isabel province over the coming weeks.
He adds girls who miss out at school or who do not go to school should visit their nearest health clinic to receive the vaccine.
Dr. Dalipanda urged parents to help their daughters have a bright future and take them to get the HPV vaccine.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services thank all partners – World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, PATH, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation and the Soroptimists for supporting the HPV vaccination program in the country.