Solomon Islands To Start Cervical Cancer Vaccination Program

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Demonstration project in Honiara, Isabel could lead to nationwide project

By Stephen Diisango

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 17, 2014) – A major programme to prevent women getting cervical cancer will start here next year.

Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Cendric Alependava announced this, Thursday.

Cervical cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related deaths for women in Solomon Islands.

Dr Alependava said the programme will see girls aged from 9 to 12 vaccinated to prevent them from getting what is called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.

"This is a demonstration programme that will start next year in Honiara and Isabel Province," he explained.

"These areas have been chosen for the demonstration programme due to the very strict requirements from the international donor.

"If this programme is successful in demonstrating that this vaccination can be integrated into the existing EPI immunization programme, then the Solomon Islands will be eligible for heavily subsidised HPV vaccines for a five year national rollout," Dr Alependava said.

He said each girl requires three doses over a 6 month period starting in March next year.

Dr Alependava said the primary preventative control that many countries, including Solomon Islands, is looking at to prevent cervical cancer is HPV vaccination.

He said this is used in over 90 countries around the world to vaccinate girls to prevent them from getting HPV.

"Through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, we are one of a handful of developing countries in the world that has been successful in obtaining financial support from GAVI, a major international donor, to run a two year HPV vaccination demonstration programme here."

He said planning is already underway with staff from his ministry and other government and non-government organisations.

Dr Alependava announced the programme when he received a new cervical cancer screening machine called Colposcope from the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, Thursday.

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