Helping eradicate cervical cancer

Dr Zaliha (third from left) and Dr Dzulkefly (second from right) at the launch of ‘Leaving No One Behind Eliminating Cervical Cancer in Malaysia Programme’ in Parliament.

Free 300,000 HPV vaccine doses for women from underprivileged communities

ABOUT 300,000 doses of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines worth RM90mil will be given free of charge to teenagers and women from disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in Malaysia.

The vaccines will be distributed to all 222 parliamentary constituencies in the country under the “Leaving No One Behind: Eliminating Cervical Cancer in Malaysia Programme” by the Health Ministry, the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health, Dewan Rakyat and National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM).

Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health chairman Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said, “This is the first time that a ministry, particularly the Health Ministry, the Malaysian Parliament through the Dewan Rakyat’s Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health, government agencies, private industries, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come together to run a programme that benefits the entire Malaysian community.

“Women and teenagers from the underprivileged, infirm, and differently-abled groups who have not received the HPV vaccine will be identified in each parliamentary constituency through the offices of MPs, government agencies, and local NGOs, to be vaccinated.

“About 1,500 doses of vaccine worth about RM500,000 have been allocated for each parliamentary constituency.”

He said this during the launch in Parliament.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, who was present, said the programme would aid the country’s efforts to curb cervical cancer.

“This will be a complementary programme to the efforts of the Health Ministry which plans to eliminate cervical cancer in Malaysia by the year 2030,” she said.

“This noble effort by NCSM not only helps protect individuals from the risk of cancer, but also contributes to overall health prevention and recovery efforts.”

In Malaysia, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women.

More than 40% of these cancer cases are diagnosed late, such as at Stage Three or Four, with only about 30% of patients still alive within five years of their diagnosis.

HPV vaccination can reduce the risk of cervical cancer by up to 95%, and by vaccinating the entire community, this cancer can be eliminated altogether.

Meanwhile, National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) president Datuk Dr Saunthari Somasundaram said volunteers would assist in distribution of the doses.

“Although 300,000 doses of this vaccine have been donated for free by pharmaceutical company MSD, volunteers and teams from NCSM and NGOs will go to the ground to distribute the doses, an effort that will require community support, especially in terms of financial and manpower resources,” she said.

The programme is supported by MSD, Zuellig Pharma Malaysia, AIA Public Takaful Bhd, The Rotary Foundation and Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad.

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