By Bana Qabbani
DUBAI // Expatriate schoolgirls are to be targeted by health officials aiming to increase the number of pupils who receive vaccinations for cervical cancer.
Although uptake has been high among Emirati girls, officials say far fewer students from abroad have opted to take the treatment.
Now in its fourth year, the school-based programme run by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (Haad) is aimed at all female students between 16 and 17 in Grade 11 at public and private schools.
“The uptake for the past four years is successful and comparable to other excellent models like Australia,” said Dr Jalaa Asaad Taher, the section head of cancer control and prevention at Haad.
“I would like to highlight that the uptake among nationals is much better than non-nationals, but we are working on strategies to improve the overall rate and uptake among non-national girls.”
Overall, 59 per cent of students received the Gardasil vaccination in 2010-11. In government-run schools, 74 per cent of girls received the vaccine, which requires the consent of their parents, compared to 35 per cent of girls at private schools, where there are a higher proportion of expatriates.