Government not wasting money on HPV vaccines
GEORGETOWN – The Maternal and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Public Health continues to lobby for the vaccination of girls between the ages of ten to13 against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Dr Vikash Chatrani Gynae-Oncologist attached to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Barbados, said that the prevalence of cervical cancer is generally caused by the HPV.
Dr Chatrani was making a presentation yesterday at Regency Suites, at a seminar hosted by the Ministry of Public Health to familiarise nurses and other health service providers on the importance of having young ladies within the age range of ten to 13 years vaccinated.
Justifying why the government is investing in the HPV vaccines, Dr Chatrani said, “The most number of women dying in Guyana is because of cervical cancer.”
Dr Chatrani said it was explained to the Finance Minister that the vaccination would reduce the prevalence of HPV which causes cervical cancer, which is one of the most preventable cancers.
However, due to the stigma that has been attached to the virus most persons do not consent to having their daughters receive the vaccination.
“To them (society) that’s a stigma, it’s a sexually transmitted infection, so if she (a young lady) got cervical cancer that means she is promiscuous. You don’t realise but some of the misconceptions out there is what we tell them (about) and then they take that and add to it and come with a different conclusion.”
The doctor further explained that giving the vaccine to the targeted age group does not encourage early sexual activity. Rather, early vaccination reduces the chances of HPV occurring. A young lady who has had the HPV vaccine is least likely to contract the virus when she does become sexually active. This makes her less likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
The Doctor pointed out that, “Because we have poor policies, we have poor access to screening and treatment services we don’t even know the stages of one third of our cancers and then when we know the stages we’re not getting treatment..”
Dr Chatrani urged a hands on approach be taken to stop the spread of the virus and decrease the number of reported cases of HPVs and cervical cancers.
Based on statistics presented during the seminar, cancer has been rated as the third leading cause of death in Guyana with cervical cancer having the second highest mortality rate.
According to Dr Morris Edwards, who heads the Health Sector Development Unit (HSDU) at the Ministry of Public Health, Chinese Guyanese are most likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Conversely, Indigenous Guyanese women are least likely to be diagnosed because of the unavailability of screening in hinterland communities.
There remain concerns from parents and guardians about allowing their daughters to be vaccinated against HPV. Dr Chatrani said knowing the facts of the vaccine will clear up all misconceptions. (GINA)