A national vaccination programme to prevent cervical cancer was launched Thursday as pledged in the new administration’s 100-day action plan.
The HPV vaccine will be provided to girls aged 10 to 14 years at schools and health centres, according to the Health Protection Agency. The vaccine is administered with shots to the upper arm in two doses six months apart.
Three students at the Thajuddeen School in Malé were given the vaccine at a ceremony held to inaugurate the national campaign. Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Yumna Maumoon, chief guest of the ceremony, handed certificates to the girls.
Once the two-month campaign is successfully conducted, girls will be provided the vaccine when they reach 10 years of age and it will be included in the national vaccine schedule, the HPA said.
The Human Papilloma Virus causes different types of cancer, including cervical and oral cancer. The HPV vaccine provides protection and helps develop immunity before exposure to the virus.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers among women. Introduced in 2006, the HPV vaccine has been administered to more than 80 million girls across 84 countries.
According to the HPA, 84 percent of deaths in the Maldives is caused by non-communicable diseases.
Out of 1,300 deaths in 2016, 36 percent was caused by cardiovascular diseases, 17 percent from cancers and nine percent from chronic respiratory diseases.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Dr Ibrahim Zakariyya Moosa emphasised that public health measures such as vaccination are encouraged in Islam.
Some MVR21 million (US$1.3 million) was allocated in 2019 state budget for 30 different health campaigns.
In December, the new government increased funding for programmes to raise awareness about harmful products such as cigarettes, energy drinks and sugary drinks.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Health Minister Abdulla Ameen launched a national diabetes programme on Kaafu Thulusdhoo island.
According to the health ministry, a one-stop centre is being developed at the Dharumavantha Hospital in the capital to “centrally connect to all health facilities to provide diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.”