19 April 2011
About 100,000 girls in primary schools will benefit from a new vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer.
This was revealed by the head of adolescent and reproductive health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diane Mutamba, in an interview with The New Times.
“The official launch of the HPV vaccine will be on April 26 and we expect to give this vaccine to over 100,000 girls across the country,” said Mutamba.
First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, will preside over the launch of the vaccine known as Gardasil, which is manufactured by Merck pharmaceutical company.
According to Mutamba, cervical cancer is the most common killer among women cancer sufferers in Rwanda. The incidence of cervical cancer in the country is 49.4/100,000.
The cervix is the lower part of the womb, which connects to the vagina, and is also called the opening of the womb. Cervical cancer occurs when cells on the cervix grow out of control.
Medics say that cervical cancer is not a genetic disease. All women who have ever had sex are at risk of contracting this type of cancer. Most girls usually get infected with HPV around the time they first have sex.
According to Mutamba, if untreated, cervical cancer can be fatal, causes great pain and suffering, and has significant negative effects on families and communities. Doctors also recommend that girls be vaccinated during adolescence.
The vaccine will be administered on girls in Primary six, and ideally, girls should receive it before their first sexual contact.
Mutamba said that the vaccine is safe and very effective.
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