Wake Up, Philippines!

Fighting HPV cancers and diseases through vaccination

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on March 4, 2009

Dr. Ricardo Manalastas Jr., chief, UP-PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Infectious Diseases (OB-IDS), and his IDS group conduct lay forums for members of socio-civic organizations, private schools, and corporations to explain the benefits and cost of HPV Vaccination.

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipino women diagnosed with cervical cancer remains high. Every year, an estimated 6,000 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,349 die of the disease. Approximately, 12 Filipino women die each day due to cervical cancer. Five out of 10 Filipino women with cervical cancer will die within five years.

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer, genital warts, and other genital cancers. Through our advocacy program, we aim to give more Filipinos access to this important vaccine by offering it at the lowest possible cost,” says Dr. Ricardo Manalastas, Jr., chief, UP-PGH

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Infectious Diseases (UP-PGH OB-IDS).

Vaccine That Can Prevent Genital Cancers

Over 100 types of HPV have been identified, about 40 of which infect the anal and genital areas with approximately 15 to 20 types proven to cause cancer. HPV has been implicated in cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, oropharynx (tongue and tonsils), low-grade dysplasia (abnormal changes in cells lining the cervix), genital warts, and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (warty growths in the larynx of children and young adults).

One hundred percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide (with almost 500,000 new cases and 270,000 deaths each year); 40 percent of vulvar and vaginal cases; 90 percent of anal cancer cases; 40 percent of penile cancer cases; 12 percent of oropharynx cancer cases; and three percent of mouth cancer cases can be attributed to cancer-causing HPV types.

HPV infection is transmitted mainly through sexual contact. Note that sexual contact is not limited to penetrative sex alone but also includes any direct skin-to-skin contact such as oral sex, anal sex, or any other contact involving the genital area, including hand-to-genital contact.

Starting Small But Aiming High

“Our advocacy program was launched only in December 2008 and we are initially focusing on socio-civic organizations, private schools, and corporations,” explains Dr. Manalastas. The OB-IDS group conducts lay forums for members of these groups to explain the benefits and cost of the HPV vaccine.

To date, the OB-IDS advocacy program has vaccinated members of the Rotary Club of Quezon City and employees of the Makati branch of a major commercial bank. Dr. Manalastas and his group are currently working with schools to provide immunization against HPV and other vaccine-preventable diseases to the school’s teachers and office staff. They plan to vaccinate teachers and employees in other schools in Manila, Quezon City, Pasig City, etc. by the end of the year.

“Who knows? Maybe we can also vaccinate students in the future,” adds Dr. Manalastas.

Dr. Manalastas is negotiating with the PGH management to make discounted HPV vaccines available to hospital patients as well. “We hope our advocacy serves as an example to other government hospitals.”

Reducing cost, increasing coverage

“We hope that through our advocacy, my colleagues and the government will realize the public health value of our advocacy and eventually support it,” Dr. Manalastas reveals. He points out that his group does not make any profit from their advocacy and they sometimes even spend their own money on syringes and other vaccination paraphernalia.

Vaccination can help prevent HPV-caused cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Ask your doctor about the different ways to help prevent these HPV-related diseases.

More information is available from the UP-PGH Obstetrics and Gynecology Infectious Disease Section website at http://www.hpv.com.ph. For inquiries about the HPV vaccine advocacy program, call 524-3518 or e-mail rmmanalastasmd@yahoo.com.

Updated March 03, 2009 12:00 AM

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