“Our government will encourage vaccination for girls in the age group of 9 to 14 years for providing prevention of cervical cancer,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech Thursday.
Currently, the vaccine is available only in private hospitals and costs up to Rs 4,000 per dose.
India’s drug regulator had in 2022 approved the country’s first indigenously developed HPV vaccine developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
India’s apex immunisation body, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), already had recommended introduction of the vaccine.The government had in 2015 asked the NTAGI to conduct a feasibility study on the vaccine so that it could be introduced in the country.Trials of HPV vaccines used against cervical cancer had hit the wall earlier. Trials were marred with controversy in 2010, after some girls reportedly died after having been administered an HPV. Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women, after breast, lung and colorectal cancer.Among Indian women, it is the second most frequent, according to the World Health Organization. A 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology found that India accounted for a third of all global cervical cancer deaths, with about 1,32,000 new cases diagnosed annually, mostly in advanced stages.
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