01 Feb, 2024 02:58 PM

Understanding cervical cancer & prevention, refrred by FM in budget speech

Understanding cervical cancer & prevention, refrred by FM in budget speech

Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the latest budget of the Modi government, has emphasized the importance of vaccination programs to combat cervical cancer and uterine cancers among women. The vaccination initiative aims to protect females against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer. According to statistics, India has the highest number of cervical cancer patients. According to the Globocan report, in 2020, 1,23,907 people were affected by cervical cancer and 77,348 people died. Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is caused by an infection. Variants of the common human papillomavirus (HPV) are the causative agents. Therefore, the possibility of contracting the disease in India's 51.4 crore women above the age of 15 cannot be ignored. Meanwhile, the disease can be completely prevented by using the HPV vaccine.

About 14 of the more than 200 HPV virus variants cause cancer. Out of this, type 16 and 18 viruses are responsible for 73 percent of the global cases and 80 to 85 percent of the disease in India alone.

The highly contagious virus is transmitted through physical contact and other skin-to-skin contact. This infection is more common after intercourse. It is estimated that 80 percent of people will be affected by the age of 50. In 85 percent of cases, the virus clears up within a year or two. Therefore, not everyone may develop cervical cancer. In the remaining 15 percent, the infection remains persistent. It is thought that about five percent of these people may have cell growth that is a precursor to cervical cancer. Many are asymptomatic, delaying diagnosis and treatment.

Transmission of HPV HPV is transmitted through bodily contact, and its prevalence increases through physical relationships. The virus becomes more apparent after initiating physical contact. In India, where around 51.4 crore women are at risk, vaccinating against HPV becomes crucial.

Vaccination Program Details Cervical cancer can be completely prevented today with the HPV vaccine. These vaccines can also protect against cancer of the vagina and anus, as well as cancer of the penis. There are three types of HPV vaccines: bivalent, quadrivalent, and nonavalent. As the country with the highest number of cervical cancer cases, there is a need to promote vaccination to prevent infection. For this it is also good to include HPV vaccine in national immunization.

The vaccination drive will target children aged nine to 14 years, aiming to make the vaccine available for them. The focus is on preventing cervical cancer and bolstering the body's resistance against HPV. The Health Ministry has stressed the importance of vaccination in schools, ensuring accessibility to girls between the ages of nine and 14.

Vaccination Effectiveness The HPV vaccine has proven effective in preventing cervical cancer and other related cancers. Administering the vaccine to girls between the ages of nine and 14 is deemed critical to building strong immunity.

Vaccination Strategy and Dosing The vaccination strategy involves providing different doses of HPV vaccines named Gardasil, Cervarix, and Gardasil 9. The number of doses varies depending on the age group. Children aged nine to 14 typically receive two doses, with a follow-up booster after six months. The vaccination regimen becomes more comprehensive for individuals aged 15 to 26 and 27 to 45, involving three doses.

Future Implications and National Vaccination Drive Encouraging the HPV vaccination initiative is vital, and making it a part of the national immunization program reflects a positive approach. The distribution of HPV vaccines is planned according to age groups and will be managed by health authorities.

The HPV vaccination initiative is a crucial step in preventing cervical cancer and promoting women's health in India. Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's emphasis on this program in the budget highlights the government's commitment to public health and disease prevention.

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