Vaccinate children against HPV to prevent cancers: DAK to parents

Srinagar: With the approval of India’s first indigenously developed Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday urged parents to get their children vaccinated against HPV to prevent several types of cancers.

“We have an amazing opportunity to prevent certain types of cancers in future generations through HPV vaccination,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement issued here.

“According to a Swedish study, HPV vaccine was found to prevent 90 percent of cervical cancers,” he said.

Dr Hassan said since the introduction of HPV vaccine, countries like US, UK and Australia have significantly reduced cases of cervical cancer. “However, it remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in low and middle income countries,” he said.

According to WHO, India accounts for about a 5TH of global burden for cervical cancer, witnessing 123,000 cases and around 6,700 deaths every year.

The DAK President said about 70 to 80 percent of oropharyngeal cancers, which mostly occur in men, are linked to HPV infection.

In a study published in “JAMA Oncology”, it was found that people who were detected to have oral HPV had a sevenfold increase in the risk of subsequent head and neck cancers. “Use of HPV vaccine would prevent a lot of these cancers and save lives,” he said.

Dr Nisar said both boys and girls from the age of 9-14 years of age should receive HPV vaccine. “For adults who have not been vaccinated, they can still be given the vaccine up until age 26. Till now, we were dependent on two foreign HPV vaccines, which cost about 3,000 per dose. Now the indigenous vaccine will be available at an affordable price of Rs 200-400 per dose,” he said.

General Secretary DAK Dr Arshad Ali said WHO recommends that routine HPV vaccination should be included in national immunization programmes.

“Despite recommendations, HPV vaccine is not offered to children putting them at risk of preventable cancers,” he said.

“There is an urgent necessity to educate people and make healthcare providers aware about the importance of vaccine,” he added.

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