Cervical cancer vaccine program to be launched

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chennai in Tamil Nadu ranks second among the metros to have the highest incidence of cervical cancer. Reportedly, 17 out of one lakh women suffer from cervical cancer. Soon, the state could become the second in India to launch the Human Papilloma Virus (6HPV) vaccine as a health programme for school children.

A report in The New Indian Express cites a senior official in the TN Health and Family Welfare Department as saying that discussions are at an early stage and post the assembly elections, a decision would be made. According to the daily, plans are on in Tamil Nadu to launch the vaccine under the universal immunisation programme and there are plans for rotavirus too.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda had said in the Lok Sabha that an estimated 62,416 women died of cervical cancer in 2015-16. The daily added that cervical cancer accounted for 24 per cent of all cancer cases in women in India and 25 per cent of death worldwide.

Among the metros, Bangalore had the highest incidence of cervical cancer with 19 in one lakh women suffering from it and Delhi ranked third with 15 cases in one lakh women. In India, the highest incidence of cervical cancer was in Aizwal district, capital of Mizoram, which topped the list with 24 women in one lakh being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The Delhi government is in touch with two pharmaceutical companies - GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and MSD. Since the vaccine is not manufactured in India, it would need to be procured from outside. The New Indian Express quoted Dr Shafi Kolhapure, GM-Medical Affairs, GSK Biologicals, India, as saying that the Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had announced his government’s decision at a recent international workshop and they would have to call for tenders.

The daily also quoted the research paper by Aswathy Sreedevi, co-author of “Epidemiology of cervical cancer with special focus on India”. According to her research, the north-eastern districts of Tamil Nadu showed a high incidence of cervical cancer and penile cancer due to HPV.