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WATCH: 700,000 school girls to get free anti-cervical cancer vaccine

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health is expanding its anti-human papillomavirus (HPV) school-based immunization program.

A total of 700,000 female students enrolled in public schools in 47 provinces are expected to avail of the free vaccination, which aims to prevent students from getting cervical cancer caused by HPV.

Mara Cepeda reports.

MARA CEPEDA, REPORTING: The vaccination is unpleasant for 9-year-old Alyssa but her mother wanted to avail of the free immunization against the human papillomavirus or HPV for her daughter. HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases worldwide.

TEHESS ALVAREZ, MOTHER: It was easy because I explained to her the process, especially now that she’s about to have her menstruation. She needs to take care of herself so she would not get that type of disease. It’s dangerous for us women. We’re always carrying the burden.

MARA CEPEDA, REPORTING: Alyssa is one of 700,000 girls enrolled in public schools in 47 provinces who will benefit from the Department of Health’s expanded school-based HPV immunization program. It previously only covered 20 of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. Parents are first oriented about HPV as well as the benefits of getting the vaccine.

A parent’s consent form must be signed before the child’s immunization can push through. The DOH says getting the vaccination is more cost-effective compared to treating cervical cancer.

GERARDO BAYUGO, UNDERSECRETARY, DOH: The cost is around P2,000/vaccination and the cost for the treatment is as much as P500,000. So definitely, the vaccination is more cost-effective in saving money when confronting these kinds of diseases.

MARA CEPEDA, REPORTING: He says P400 million out of the proposed P164.3 billion DOH budget for 2018 is allocated for the school-based immunization program. Still, Bayugo clarifies getting the vaccination is not enough.


Gerardo Bayugo, Undersecretary, DOH: We should not just rely on vaccines for women, okay? Don’t say, ‘I’ve been vaccinated. I’m surely safe.’ You should have yourselves examined. For the older women get a pap smear. They’re still doing that today.


MARA CEPEDA, REPORTING: He also advises women to undergo a visual inspection with acetic acid to check for signs of cervical cancer.

The Department of Health encourages parents to get their children vaccinated against HPV and cervical cancer. They remind the public that prevention is better than cure.

Mara Cepeda, Rappler, Mandaluyong