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Media Invite: KZN Department of Health and Education in Partnership with MSD to deliver lifesaving vaccines to rural poor girls

DATE: 03 MARCH 2011

The Departments of Health and Education in partnership with MSD (MERCK & Co. Inc) will give a more than R2400 per dose vaccine to girls between the ages of 9 to 12 years to prevent them from acquiring the Human Papilloma Virus which is a precursor to the development of cervical cancer in most women.

Cervical cancer is the commonest cancer among women in South Africa, and in KwaZulu-Natal. Approximately 6742 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually, with more than 50 % of the cases leading to death. Cervical cancer is linked to the infection of the cervix with certain high-risk or oncogenic (cancer causing) types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), particularly types 16 and 18.

MSD (Merck & Co. Inc) has donated 3000 doses of the vaccine Gardasil to the KZN Department of Health for the vaccination of 1000 female learners. Gardasil was licensed in 2008 for use in South Africa by the Medicines Control Council (MCC), and is currently in use in the private sector, but is not yet available in the public sector.

“This HPV Vaccine programme is seen as part of a comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and treatment programme currently being introduced in the province following our announcement of the Phila Ma Campaign,” says Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Our programme includes the following components: (i) Primary prevention of HPV infection through vaccination with HPV vaccine of 9 – 12 year old girls, initially, and extended to boys as resources become available; (2) Secondary prevention of cervical cancer through screening of women initially using cytology, with colposcopic follow up of women with abnormal Pap smears; (3) Improve access to and treatment of cervical cancer using surgery and radiotherapy and to significantly reduce long waiting times for either treatment modality; and (4) Providing palliative care for women with advanced incurable cancers.”

It has been estimated that, assuming coverage of 70% of girls aged 9 – 12 years, vaccinating against types 16 and 18 will reduce the lifetime risk of cervical cancer by 43%. In addition, a combined approach of vaccinating young girls and screening women over the age of 30 years, at 70% coverage for both, will provide an estimated 53 – 70% reduction in the lifetime risk of cervical cancer.

Journalists and reporters are invited to attend and report on this ground breaking programme which will take place as follows;

Date : 07 March 2011 (Monday)
Time : 08h30
Venue : St Benedictine Hospital,  NONGOMA


083 447 2869

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