Mumbai: Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women and the incidence is on the rise. In India, it comprises 18.3 per cent of female cancers and the mortality rate is 11.7 per cent. The impact is substantial as 212 women succumb to cervical cancer daily which is preventable with HPV vaccination.
HPV vaccination inequities and the lack of access to a national HPV vaccination drive have aggravated the situation. Today while announcing the interim Budget for 2024, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister, Government of India addressed this scenario. She said, “Government will advocate for vaccination of girls aged 9–14 against cervical cancer.”
Welcoming the announcement, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India (SII) tweeted, “I applaud the Indian government’s announcement to vaccinate girls aged 9-14 against cervical cancer. Let’s pledge to prevent HPV and ensure easy access to vaccination. Extending health cover for ASHA and Anganwadi workers, setting up more medical colleges, and streamlining maternal and child healthcare schemes demonstrate a holistic commitment to health.”
“We are encouraged with the recent budget announcement that lays emphasis and much-deserved attention on women’s health. With all maternal and child healthcare schemes under one comprehensive programme, the collective vision of healthy women, healthy pregnancies, and a healthy future is becoming a reality. Added to this, HPV vaccinations for girls in the 9–14 age group for the prevention of cervical cancer, immunisations of children, and schemes such as Poshan 2.0 will help improve nutrition delivery, early childhood care, and development,” shared Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director & CEO, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd (BSV).
Navangul added, “The government’s efforts to build capabilities and domestic capacities will augment the existing healthcare infrastructure and will ensure that healthcare reaches every home in India.”
Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO & Co-Founder, Indira IVF, said, “Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women in India, and its vaccination is recommended before the girl child attains puberty to maximise its benefits. Getting protected against the disease through effective immunisation and enabling early detection are two crucial steps that can help us save close to 1,25,000 women every year.”