The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said its free human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination will be back among nine year-old (Grade 4) students in public schools in the priority provinces in the country this school year.
According to Dr. Clarito U. Cairo, DOH Medical Officer 4 and program manager of cancer prevention and control program, the return of HPV immunization will start by August after students made their return to schools.
“The total target now as priority areas will be the 46 poorest provinces out of the 81 provinces in the country, ” Dr. Cairo said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.
Originally, the scope of the first HPV vaccination was planned to rolled out sometime in 2015 targeting female grade 4 students of public schools in the 20 provinces in the country under then the leadership of DOH former Health Secretary Janette L. Garin.
Under the original plan, the HPV immunization was supposed to be included as part of the school-based immunization program with the partnership of DOH and the Department of Education (DepEd).
Cairo said that the plan to make the HPV vaccination a part of school-based immunization did not however materialize under then the term of DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and DOH just continued the immunization program to the target students through its rural health units of the 20 poorest regions in 2016.
The health expert said that the nod for the inclusion of HPV vaccination to the target areas was arrived at this year after higher authorities and partners from DepEd were convinced that the said immunization program is vital among the target students.
He said that HPV vaccination is important to be administered among the targeted to protect them from HPV.
HPV is an infection that can be transmitted when a person was exposed to sex or engaging in sexual act.
This infection may lead to onset of cervical cancer if the higher or stronger strains hits the victim.
For males it can cause penile and anal cancer.
It can be transmitted to male by a female or female to male or vice versa by the sexual partner who is a carrier of it.
Those who are prone to it are those who have risky sexual behaviors and have multiple partners.
He added that access of the young people nowadays through the influx of modern technology among sexual materials may also influence the young people to engage in sexual activity which is actually when and where will happen if they will have no control of themselves.
Other factors can be through unplanned sexual activity because of circumstances like if the individual later in life got drunk, has been under the influence of drugs wherein his/her sense of judgment was lost.
And if one becomes a carrier of it through a previous partner, his/her future partner will not know or have an idea that he/she is carrier and has the capability of transmitting such.
Unprotected, the individual during the time that they engage in sexual activity then may be transmitted by HPV due to lack of protection (immunization).
Based on the data of DOH, every year, more than 6,000 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among Filipino women.
“The problem is that the disease is usually detected late because the affected women may have no obvious early signs and symptoms,” he said.
Treatment of it is costly and have high impact on the poor family not only in terms of financial aspects but also on the emotional side since oftentimes those who are afflicted with cervical infection are the mothers-or women during their productive years.
As ä light in every home, their loss can cause social and economic impact as well since women in our society plays a vital role in nation building.
Since the transmission of infection may start as one became exposed to a sexual partner, it is important, that the young will get the protection while they are still on the stage of life that they deserve the adequate protection and be educated about it at the same time through the school-based immunization program.
“That is why our target are those who are nine-years old still have higher immune system and has high probability of positive response to vaccine plus the fact that they are those who are not yet exposed to sexual activity” the health expert said.
The priority areas are the cities of Caloocan, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasay, Quezon, Taguig, and Valenzuela in Metro Manila; the provinces of Apayao, Ifugao, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union in Ilocos Region; Pampanga and Zambales; in Central Luzon; Quezon, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal in CALABARZON; Camarines Sur and Masbate in Bicol Region; Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental in Central Visayas; Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc City in Eastern Visayas; Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Iloilo province, and the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, and Dumaguete in Central Visayas; Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao City, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Zamboanga del Sur, Camiguin Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Marawi City in Mindanao.