TO protect children and adolescents from vaccine-preventable diseases, the Quezon City government, the Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Education (DepEd) introduced the inclusion of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the School-Based Immunization (SBI) program for all public elementary schools in Quezon City.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person infected with HPV may be prone to cervical cancer; other HPV-related diseases include vaginal and vulvar cancer in women, and penile cancer in men. HPV infection may also cause genital warts and anal cancer.
DoH said there are more than 7,000 new cases of cervical cancer every year. Out of this number, about 4,000 deaths occur.
Quezon City is among active local government units that promote women’s rights and welfare. It can be recalled that in March, QC Mayor Joy Belmonte rolled out a free breast and cervical cancer screening caravan as part of the International Women’s Month celebration.
Quezon City’s initiative is in line with the DoH’s thrust to promote the importance of Kalasag ng Kalusugan (Health Shield) by providing health care services for all communities and making vaccines readily available.
Through educational forums, the program urges parents and students to look beyond the concern of HPV as a stigma of sexual activity, and instead join in the fight to protect every Filipino woman from the burden of cervical cancer.
The “Back to BakUNA” SBI program is one of the multi-stakeholder initiatives that demonstrate the importance of getting early immunization especially for young women, before they are exposed to HPV.
“The parents have to know that the vaccine is very safe. Before a vaccine becomes licensed, it undergoes a lot of clinical studies,” Philippine Pediatric Society President Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian said.
Meanwhile, to highlight their support for the initiative, Grade 4 learners of Betty Go Belmonte Elementary School gathered to form the shape of a cervical cancer ribbon which symbolically underscored the importance of creating awareness about the disease and its prevention.