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Union Government To Encourage HPV Vaccination For Cervical Cancer Through Relief In Price Capping: Sources

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her interim budget presentation on February 1 said that the government will encourage vaccination for girls in the age group of 9-14 years for the prevention of cervical cancer in the country

Union Government To Encourage HPV Vaccination For Cervical Cancer Through Relief In Price Capping: Sources
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer with an incident rate of 18.3 per cent and the second leading cause of death in India

New Delhi: The central government, which announced plans to encourage vaccinations against the human papilloma virus (HPV) through its immunisation programme, is exploring options to cap prices so that the vaccines to treat cervical cancer become more affordable, official sources have said. Apart from slashing prices, the government will encourage HPV vaccination for cervical cancer through Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities, the sources said.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her interim budget presentation on February 1 said that the government will encourage vaccination for girls in the age group of 9-14 years for the prevention of cervical cancer in the country.

Also Read: Budget 2024 Highlights: Government Drives Focus On Healthcare Workers, Women And Child Health

Cervical cancer is a highly preventable cancer but is also the third most common cancer with an incident rate of 18.3 percent and the second leading cause of death in India.

However, HPV in young girls is considered to be the most successful tool for cervical cancer prevention. According to Dr Neerja Bhatla, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi,

HPV vaccination of young girls is the most remarkable and successful tool for cervical cancer prevention today. It is simple, safe, effective and feasible with existing infrastructure.

For women over the age of 30, regular Pap smears and HPV tests can be helpful to prevent cervical cancer. Dr Neerja said,

Cervical cancer is a highly preventable cancer. Screening of women after the age of 30 with regular Pap smears and now with the HPV test is one strategy that has been successfully employed for several decades in developed countries but for universal coverage, it needs a lot of infrastructure and resources.

According to Dr Neerja, cervical cancer vaccination can be a game changer. Recently, AIIMS Delhi conducted a study that showed that even a single dose of vaccine until the age of 20 is beneficial. She said,

At AIIMS, we conducted and participated in trials that showed that the number of doses could be decreased from three to two doses, and more recently, our data has supported only one dose until the age of 20 years. Implementing universal HPV vaccination in the national programme will be a game changer for a major public health problem.

Also Read: Dear Women, It’s Time To Prioritise Self Care, Take The First Step By Ensuring Good Health

Following the Finance Minister’s Budget speech, Adar Poonawala, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, took to social media platform X to applaud the government’s announcement. He tweeted,

I applaud the Indian government’s announcement to vaccinate girls aged 9-14 against cervical cancer. Let’s pledge to prevent HPV and ensure easy access to vaccination. Extending health cover for ASHA and Anganwadi workers, setting up more medical colleges, and streamlining maternal and child healthcare schemes demonstrate a holistic commitment to health.

In 2022, Union Minister Jitendra Singh announced India’s first indigenously developed vaccine, “CERVAVAC” for the prevention of cervical cancer.

The National Technical Advisory Group for Immunisation (NTAGI) has recommended introduction of The quadrivalent Human Papilloma Virus (qHPV) vaccine in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) with a one-time catch-up for 9-14 year-old adolescent girls followed with routine introduction at nine years.

The vaccination would be provided primarily through schools (grade-based approach: 5th-l0th). In order to reach those girls who are unable to attend school on the campaign day, the vaccination would be provided at a health facility while for out-of-school girls the campaign would be conducted through Community Outreach and Mobile teams

Dr Sheetal Agarwal, Gynaecologist at Cloud9 Hospital said that there are two types of cervical vaccines. She said,

Gardasil, which is a quadrivalent vaccine, is given in three doses at zero, two and six months intervals. The other is Cervarix, which is bivalent vaccine, is given at zero, one and six months interval. The cost of both these vaccines- three doses- is within Rs 10000 and they should generally be administered prior to start of sexual activity.

Presently, the Serum Institute’s indigenous vaccine against cervical cancer, CERVAVAC, is available in the private market.

Also Read: Opinion: Poor Menstrual Hygiene Leads To Increased Susceptibility To Cervical Cancer

According to SII, it presently has a production capacity of around two- three million doses for the Cervavac vaccine. That said, the company plans to considerably expand this capacity, with a target of reaching 60-70 million doses and is priced at Rs 2000 per dose.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 

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