Cervical cancer vaccine in immunisation plan sought

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cervical cancerDUBAI - A controversial cervical cancer vaccine, which was recently approved in the UAE, may be included in the immunisation programmes of the various health authorities, says a senior official at the pharmaceutical company.

The vaccine protects against certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that causes cervical cancer in women.

About half a million women worldwide die of cervical cancer each year. It is controversial as some have argued it may encourage promiscuity.

Dr Wissam Haddadin, medical advisor and franchise manager at Merck, Sharp and Dohme, said the company has approached the Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), the Abu Dhabi General Authority for Health Services (Gahs) and the Health Ministry about including the vaccine Gardasil in their immunisation programmes.

"We're trying to work and see the cost-effectiveness of giving the vaccine, to see when and who should get it and the best mechanism to deliver it," she told Gulf News after a press conference to launch the vaccine in the UAE.

She did not say when a decision would be reached.

Gulf News contacted Health Ministry and Dohms officials for confirmation. Dr Juma Bilal Fairouz, federal director of preventive medicine at the ministry, said he was unaware of any current discussions regarding the vaccine.

"Before any vaccines can be included in the National Immunisation Programme, it has to to be studied on the basis of risk first," he added. Dohms did not respond to Gulf News' requests for a comment.

Dr Sa'ad Aswad, associate professor of gynaecology at UAE University and senior consultant gynaecologist oncologist, said there was a risk of cervical cancer in the UAE, which he said was increasing.

"What we have suggests the doubling and tripling of cases. There are many gaps in the reporting system because many go abroad for treatment," he said.

"We have it, we see it everyday but we don't have any accurate figures," he added.

There is no national cancer registry in the UAE.

source - Gulf News 

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