Cervical cancer vaccine too expensive for the poor

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ONCE it’s made affordable to indigent women, a mother of three children from barangay Casili, Mandaue City wants to avail of cervical cancer vaccine to keep her health in check.

Jeilla Murcilla, a 29-year-old housewife, was cuddling her three year old child while attending the program of Mandaue Women’s Summit held in Mandaue City Sports Complex last week.

The women summit bore the theme “Women: Partner in Development and in Nurturing the Development or Babaye: Kaabag sa Kalamboan ug sa Pag-amoma sa Kinaiyahan”.

Among those who attended the summit were Abbygale Arenas-de Leon, former Binibining Pilipinas 1997 and senatorial aspirant  Risa Hontiveros-Baraquiel.

Also in attendance were Vice-Mayor Glenn Bercede and City Councilors Doisdado Suico, Jimmy Lumapas, Atty. Nenita-Layese, Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, Benjamin Basiga, Beethoven Andaya and Jose Jefferson Ceniza.

Murcilla said she knows about the cervical cancer vaccine but did not avail of it since its expensive.

“Mahalan raman ko sa injection ana kay akoa ra bayang bana ang natrabaho namo,”  (The injectable vaccine is expensive and my husband is the only one working),” she explained.

Her husband earns only P285 as a messenger.They have three children.

Murcilla added, “daghan naman kaayo na mapalit ang P5,000, sa among consumo nga bugas, sud-an ug gatas.”

(P5,000 can already buy a lot of household needs like rice, viand and milk.)

Murcilla’s 51-year-old neighbor, Leonesa Tubod also said she wanted to avail of the vaccine but she didn’t have the money.

Tubod who raises seven children said P5,000 means a lot to them and others who don’t have a job.

Abbygale Arenas-de Leon, who represents the Brave Hearts Coalition of the Philippines, reiterated the importance of cervical cancer vaccine to the 2,000 Mandauehanon women in attendancer.

Brave hearts is a non-profitable organization dedicated to spreading awareness, screening and vaccination on cervical cancer in partnership with  Glaxo Smith Klimp.

De Leon said there are 12 Filipino women who die of the disease every day.

The disease is the second deadliest for women in the world next to breast cancer. Cervical cancer is the first cancer disease that has a vaccine available in the market.

“Every woman is at risk because cervical cancer often has no signs or symptoms. Most women don’t know they have it until it’s too late,” she said.

De Leon said she had  been lobbying for a cervical cancer-free Philippines for the past five years.

She said she’s doing it for her 11-year-old son.

“I want to see my son grow up and have a girlfriend. I am asking all women to avail of the vaccine. It’s a bit expensive but it’s more expensive when we die of the disease,” she said in Filipino.

In 2013, Brave Hearts will be coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) in giving indigent women a chance to receive free cervical cancer vaccine.

She said they also plan to have a mobile clinic bus for blood screening tests on the spot. /Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Correspondent

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