DOH-7 assures availability of HPV vaccine in Central Visayas
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) assured that the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is available.
Dr. Jera Armendarez, head of the Non-Communicable Disease Section at DOH-7, gave the assurance during a forum about HPV on Monday, November 27, inside a mall in Cebu City.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that may cause cancers and diseases like cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancers, penile cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, and genital warts.
“We will be emphasizing sa karon nga naa gyud tay readily available na HPV [vaccine] sa ages 9 to 15 nga bata para duha lang ka doses ang atong mahatag,” Armendarez said.
She added that the vaccine can also be accessed for free at rural health units (RHUs), but if patients choose to avail themselves of it in private hospitals, they would need to pay more or less than P3,000.
During the 24th Philippine National Immunization Conference in Cebu City last November 11, Dr. Jonathan Lim, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, advised individuals as young as nine years old to consider getting vaccinated as a preventive measure against this infection.
By choosing vaccination at an early age, Lim stated that individuals could reduce the risk of contracting the infection and its associated consequences.
For individuals aged nine to 14 years old, a two-dose regimen is recommended, with the first dose administered, followed by the second dose one month later. On Monday, Armendarez emphasized to reporters the importance of preventive measures against HPV, noting that cervical cancer stands as the second most common cancer affecting women in the Philippines.
She highlighted that cervical cancer “is very preventable,” especially when implementing preventive measures such as vaccination.
Cancer assistance fund
Among the programs offered by DOH are the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) and the Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicine Access Program (CSP-Map).
Armendarez mentioned that the DOH would screen patients for HPV, and if they tested positive, they would provide the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF), granting P150,000 annually per patient. The CAF covers diagnostics, treatment, and medicines, and cancer patients can also access medicines through the Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicine Access Program (CSP-Map).
Between January and June 2023, 17 cervical cancer patients received their CAF at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City. Unfortunately, no data is available from July to November since the current information from VSMMC only covers January to June.
Armendarez clarified that she couldn’t provide details from other hospitals in the region as VSMMC is the sole access site for DOH-7. / with reports from Rashe Zoe Sophia Piquero
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