Strengthening the fight against HPV and cervical cancer

    Photo from left: Antipolo City Health Officer Dr. Concepcion G. Lat and Antipolo City Councilor Susan G. Say during the HPV ceremonial vaccination.
    Photo from left: Antipolo City Health Officer Dr. Concepcion G. Lat and Antipolo City Councilor Susan G. Say during the HPV ceremonial vaccination.

    ANTIPOLO City is strengthening immunization efforts to protect children and adolescents from vaccine-preventable diseases through the School-Based Immunization (SBI) Program recently kicked off at Bagong Nayon IV Elementary School.

    Themed, “Back to BakUNA: Una sa Lahat, BakUNA,” the SBI Program of the Department of Health (DOH) – Center for Health Development CALABARZON in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Antipolo City government highlighted the role of parents in fortifying the health shield of their children through timely vaccination against diseases.

    Under the DOH’s SBI Program, HPV vaccination is given to grade 4 based on DOH’s recommended age group to receive the two doses of HPV vaccine, six months apart, for protection against cervical cancer.

    Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Filipino women, next to breast cancer. Over 7,000 new cases of cervical cancer are recorded every year in the Philippines. Of these cases, close to 4,000 lead to death, according to the DOH.

    HPV is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or sexual activity. It is extremely common that most people can get infected by the virus shortly after the onset of sexual activity. Most HPV infection clear up on their own, but there is still the risk that the infection may become chronic and pre-cancerous lesions may later develop into cervical cancer. The SBI Program endeavors to make HPV vaccination more accessible especially to a catch population of young women so that they are protected early from HPV, before they are exposed to the virus.

    DOH Provincial Health team leader Dr. Gerardo G. Mejorada explained that the SBI Program is promoted by the OPLAN Kalusugan program of DepEd which aims to educate students, parents, and teachers on healthier behaviors that can result in better learning outcomes particularly for students.

    “We’re hoping for your continuous patronage especially from the younger women who are fortunate to have this vaccine. Let’s all encourage everyone to support the health programs of the DOH and DepEd,” Mejorada said in her speech.

    Vaccines have been proven as one of the most successful health interventions that is second to clean water in greatly reducing the burden of infectious diseases. It is estimated to prevent between 2 and 3 million deaths each year worldwide and is a proven effective tool in controlling and eliminating life-threatening diseases such as smallpox.

    In the case of cervical cancer, the disease is usually diagnosed in its late stages, when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. This is why immunization was identified as an optimal strategy in conquering HPV and the prevalence of cervical cancer.

    Mona Lisa J. Gesmundo, mother of Grade 5 female student, is aware of the importance of vaccines so she made sure all her children were protected since birth. She even advised other parents to trust the government’s programs and let their children receive the vaccines.

    “Para sa akin ang pagbibigay bakuna sa bata ay makakaiwas sa mas malalang kahihinatnan o kumplikasyon. Kaya ako yung ibang nanay niyaya ko magpabakuna ng anak. Ako sina-sample ko sa kanila ‘yung mga anak ko. Nakikita naman nila maaayos ang mga anak ko. Kumbaga makikita nila ‘yung mga positive results.”