KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday officially launched the HPV (Human Pappiloma Virus) immunisation programme for Sabah, targeting to vaccinate 75,754 female students from 24 districts across the state this year.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said a total of 98 health facilities have been mobilised for this purpose and female students from 82 schools have so far been vaccinated.
She said that the vaccine will be administered in three dosages over a period of six months to all female Form 1 students in all 230 schools in the State.
The vaccine was believed to be able to protect against cervical cancer or at least reduce the risk of getting infected by the disease for 20 years after. Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) is closely associated with cervical cancer with 99 percent of cervical cancer cases had reportedly been linked to the virus. Cervical cancer has been listed as the third most common cancer among women in Malaysia behind breast and colorectal cancers, infecting an estimated 1,500 victims in the country annually and contributing about six percent of deaths caused by cancer among women.
“Parents whose daughters will be given the HPV injection do not need to worry as the vaccinations will be carried out by trained medical professionals. The department will always look after the health of the students throughout the period of the vaccination programme,” she said when officiating the launch at Kota Kinabalu High School yesterday.
The ministry had proposed the introduction of the vaccination programme in 2007 and had received an allocation of RM150 million to give the vaccines to students for free in 2010.
However, the programme had only expanded to Sabah this year and it will be carried out in all secondary schools registered with the Education Ministry and all Form 1 female students are each entitled to a free vaccination regardless of age as long as they are Malaysian citizens.
Non-school going teenagers can obtain the vaccination from any of the 82 health facilities that have been identified for the programmes.
“The HPV vaccination programme is a smart move by the government aimed at reducing cervical cancer in the country. Every teenage girl must get her HPV injection and parents should not hesitate to give their consent, which is mandatory before a student can be vaccinated.
“As such, I urge teachers to help the Health department to ensure that every student will be given the vaccination,” said Rosnah.
Health Department director Dr Mohd Yusof Ibrahim said about 96 percent of parents in Sabah had willingly signed the consent form to allow their children to be vaccinated with the HPV, citing findings from an unpublished research conducted by the department.
“This is a very good figure and we hope through our awareness campaign we’ll be able to push it to 100 percent,” he said.
Deputy Education director Maimunah Suhaibul meanwhile said her department welcomed the initiative by the Health Ministry in introducing the vaccination programme and would continue to support and work closely with them towards promoting better health among the students.