Implement free nationwide screening for the month of May
The Department of Health (DOH), global pharmaceutical company MSD and medical societies hope to go full circle for this year’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in May, and strike directly at the source of cervical cancer—the human papillomavirus or HPV.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in both men and women which causes cervical cancer. According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer afflicting women worldwide with about 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths each year. In the Philippines, an estimated 12 Filipino women die due to cervical cancer each day.
For these reasons, the DOH and MSD, along with medical societies Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS), Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of the Philippines (SGOP) and Philippine Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (PSCPC), continue with their partnership, dubbed as Babae, MahalagaKa!, for the 6th year of the Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) celebration.
Free cervical cancer screening will be offered to women aged 30-49 years old in 58 DOH-retained hospitals nationwide for the whole month of May. “Screening, either through Pap smear or visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA), should be done on women who are sexually active or had history of sexual contact. This service is being offered for free every May in government hospitals, to help detect cervical cancer in its early stage, while it is still treatable and curable,” said Dr. Rey Delos Reyes, past President of POGS and SGOP, consultant of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.
“The good news is that early this year, PhilHealth included the treatment for cervical cancer in the Z Benefit Package program. The benefit package includes cervical cancer chemoradiation with cobalt or primary surgery worth Php120,000 or cervical cancer chemoradiation with linear accelerator for Php175,000 depending on what is needed by the patient,” imparts DOH Secretary Enrique Ona.
Apart from free screenings nationwide, MSD in partnership with DOH will be providing free quadrivalent HPV vaccinations to 9,000 girls aged 13 years old this coming school year. “Our mission is not only to discover and develop medicines and vaccines for unmet medical needs but we would also like to make these accessible to people who can benefit from them. This initiative would help demonstrate how to implement a school-based vaccination program which can serve as a model for a national program,” shares Sanjiv Navangul, President and Managing Director of MSD in the Philippines.
Aside from cervical cancer, the quadrivalent HPV vaccine can also prevent vulvar and vaginal cancer, as well as genital warts. It is important to note that HPV is implicated in various diseases aside from cervical cancer such as cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, head and neck, and genital warts. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in both men and women. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women get it at some point in their lives.
“Due to the many risks that HPV poses and the many lives claimed by cervical cancer, the DOH hopes that through the yearly celebration of CCAM, more and more women will be educated and encouraged to undergo screening and vaccination, “says Secretary Ona.
For more information on cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases and the activities for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month