The first round of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in the North West will start this week, the provincial health department said on Monday.
Spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said the department, working in partnership with the department of education, was embarking on a massive campaign to provide the HPV vaccine among school-going girls who are nine-years-old and above as from Tuesday.
“Teams of health professionals will be visiting all public schools across the province to administer free HPV vaccination to girls in Grade 4 and who have already turned nine and older. The first round of the campaign will run until the March 28 2017,” he said.
Human Papilloma Viruses refers to a group of virus types and they are mainly transmitted through sexual contact.
The purpose of this intervention was to implement one of the four basic components of cervical cancer control, namely primary prevention. The vaccination protects girls before they are sexually active from being infected by HPV and reduces the risk of developing HPV related cervical cancer later in life.
The vaccine was approved in South Africa in 2008; however it was only available through private outlets. The government started rolling out the vaccine for free later in 2014 to all Grade 4 girl learners at all public schools through Integrated School Health Programme, (ISHP).
Health MEC Dr Magome Masike said the success of an immunisation project such as this one, was highly dependent on the parental acceptance of the vaccine as an effective life saving immunisation.
“It is important that we protect our children, future women of South Africa against cervical cancer. The focus here is prevention and promotion rather than curative. I am therefore appealing to all communities to inform parents, guardians and extended families of these young girls that the vaccination is available and is free,” he said.
“Parents need to ensure that they have signed and return the consent forms which they will receive from the school that their child attends. No girl will be vaccinated without parental consent.”
For the adequate lifetime protection against cervical cancer to be achieved, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that a minimum of two doses should be administered with a six months interval between doses before a girl is sexually active.
– African News Agency