Free HPV vaccines well received


Saving lives: Tuanku Zara (third from left) posing for pictures alongside Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) and others at the launch of the vaccination programme at Dewan Serbaguna Bandar Baru Tambun.

IPOH: A 19-year-old college student from Kampar made an early morning trip to get herself vaccinated against cervical cancer.

Lucy Xian said she knew about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme at Dewan Serbaguna Bandar Baru Tambun from social media.

“I decided to take a bus to the community hall at 6.30am to get myself the life-saving jab.

“I was surprised to see there were already dozens of teenagers at the hall, waiting in line to get vaccinated,” she said when met yesterday.

Xian said she was willing to go the extra mile to attend the programme after knowing there were vaccines being made free to prevent the disease.

“As a student, I read about cervical cancer and I just want to prevent myself from being diagnosed with the disease,” she said.

Xian hopes that more adolescent girls are given the opportunity to get the HPV vaccination.

“I am thankful for this programme to be held in Tambun,” she said.

Another recipient, Jamilah Husin, 18, from Kampung Paloh here, said she wanted to get vaccinated after her relative was diagnosed with cervical cancer a few months ago.

“I never knew about cervical cancer until one of my relatives is enduring hardship due to the disease.

“I told my elder brother to drive me here so that I can receive the jab,” she said.

The vaccination programme, organised by National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), was graced by Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim and was also attended by the Prime Minister’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Perak Mentri Besar’s wife Datin Seri Aezer Zubin.

Prime Minister’s senior political secretary Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin, NCSM president Datuk Dr S. Saunthari, NCSM managing director Assoc Prof Dr M. Murallitharan, Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) chief executive officer Mark O’Dell and Edra Power Holdings Sdn Bhd vice-chairman Datuk Wira Mark Ling were also present.

LIAM, consisting of 16 member companies, collectively contributed RM3mil towards the programme.

Dr Wan Azizah, in her speech, said cervical cancer could be a significant burden for any woman and the HPV vaccination could prevent them from being diagnosed with such a complicated disease.

She said it was important to spread awareness on this condition among the public.

“Prevention is better than cure. The HPV vaccine plays a huge role in preventing cervical cancer.

“When we say prevention, we want all our young children, our daughters, to be protected from cervical cancer,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Murallitharan said the programme was to provide opportunity to young women and teenagers to get inoculated.

He said cervical cancer is the third most common cancer affecting women, with about 40% of cervical cancer cases being diagnosed late – at Stages Three and Four.

“For those diagnosed at these later stages, their five-year survival rate is as low as 23% to 32%.

“Low awareness of cervical cancer and challenges in obtaining screening and HPV vaccination contribute to these percentages,” he said.

At the event, Tuanku Zara also presented appreciation awards to sponsors and NGOs that contributed to the success of the programme.

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