Gov’t boosting HPV vaccine to promote healthier communities

Senior health personnel are meeting in Georgetown for a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Scientific Conference, as Guyana seeks to accelerate its HPV vaccination programme.

The two-day session is a partnership between the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Organisation (PAHO) which opened at the Pegasus Hotel and Corporate Suites in Kingston, Georgetown, on Tuesday.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony addresses participants at the event

Delivering the keynote address, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony stressed the importance of HPV vaccines, noting that it helps with eliminating cervical cancer in Guyana.

“I think if we focus a lot of our energy on HPV vaccination that in a couple years maybe in a decade, we can see the effects of that. We may be on a pathway to eliminating cervical cancer as one of the first cancers in the country. I think all of us would like to see that happening…We can make a big difference,” Dr Anthony stated.

The health minister noted that Guyana has provided between 98-100 per cent coverage through its immunisation programme. However, there is a challenge with the HPV vaccination efforts.

“When it comes to HPV vaccination, we are way down at the bottom…We don’t understand the implications or how this is going to help people, and if we don’t understand that then maybe that’s why we are lagging. We want to change that because if cervical cancer is the number two cancer among women and this is preventable by a vaccine then we want to make sure that every child in this country is protected,” Dr Anthony emphasised.

PAHO Representative in Guyana, Dr Luis Felipe Codina

According to the health minister, the ministry has a comprehensive plan to prevent cervical cancer and will be working to get 100 per cent coverage with the HPV vaccine.

The vaccine is available to females between nine and 45 years old and can also be beneficial to males.

PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana, Dr Luis Felipe Codina, stated that the conference aims to show evidence and other activities related to the elimination of cervical cancer in the next few years, as well as to exchange experiences between Guyana, Chile, and Argentina.

Some of the participants at the opening of the conference on Tuesday

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