DOH drive aims to curb cases of cervical cancer
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) aims to reduce the number of cervical cancer cases in the country to four per 100,000 women, from the current 14 to 15.
The 14 to 15 cases per female population of 100,000 are based on DOH data as of 2020, and equate to an estimated 17,000 cases nationwide.
But according to Dr. Clarito Cairo, program manager of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program of the DOH, cervical cancer cases averaged 7,200 nationwide annually. Of that number, about 3,100 women die of the disease every year, he said.
Speaking on Wednesday at a webinar on cervical cancer care, Cairo also said about 36 million women are at risk of developing the illness.
One of leading illnesses
Cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix, is among the leading illnesses in the country affecting women. The otherwise preventable illness is tagged as the second most common malignancy among women, next to breast cancer, according to the DOH.
The incidence of cervical cancer has been attributed in part to the human papillomavirus (HPV) — a sexually transmitted infection (STI), of which girls as young as before their teens are at risk of exposure.
Cairo said the actual incidence of cervical cancer may be higher as only “fewer than one in 10” were screened from 2014 to 2019 for that disease.
For its “Cervical Cancer-Free Philippines” campaign, the DOH has come up with a “90-70-90” blueprint—a 90-percent immunization against HPV for girls 9 to 15 years old; a 70-percent screening for women between 30 and 49; and 90-percent treatment for women testing positive for HPV.
Cairo said vaccination is a cost-effective way to prevent cervical cancer, adding that the Health Technology Assessment Council of the DOH is reviewing a proposal for a single-dose inoculation against HPV.
“The single dose will definitely be a big help for us,” he said.
Jabs against HPV are usually given in two or three doses. But Cairo noted the social stigma of acquiring STI which has discouraged vaccinees from completing their inoculation.
He also said: “The vaccine hesitancy problem in the Philippines is really huge. That’s primarily going to be addressed, so we need to strengthen our advocacy campaign regarding the benefits of HPV vaccination.”
The DOH said it aims to reduce cervical cancer fatalities by as much as 30 percent by 2030. That means the department will be able to avert about 930 deaths from the current annual figure of about 3,000.
One dose of HPV vaccine may prevent cervical cancer
DOH vaccination program vs cervical cancer to target 46 provinces
Women urged to undergo cervical cancer screening
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.