ISLAMABAD: Health experts on Thursday urged the government to take immediate steps to ensure availability of vaccine for cervical cancer through national immunization programme to save precious lives as 20 women die of cervical cancer every day in Pakistan.

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Salma Kafeel Qureshi during a briefing held at local hotel said that cervical cancer was caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is common and easily transmissible. Fortunately vaccine is available to prevent cervical cancer but lack of awareness is causing loss of precious lives.

“We must take serious note of this severity and should not ignore it because of social barriers,” she said.

World Health Organisation study shows that in Pakistan, the incidence of cervical cancer was less than nine per 100,000 back in 2002 which moved to 13.6 per 100,000 in 2008.

It showed that the country is moving from low risk level to moderate risk level making it a danger zone where the young girls are more at risk than before.

Dr Salma said that as it was caused by a virus, every woman was at a risk.

The best time to get vaccinated is before marriage, however all females from nine years onwards can benefit from vaccine against cervical cancer. Getting the vaccine as early as possible will protect them in future.

“Response against cervical cancer is same in all segments of our society. Irrespective of their social upbringing or education level parents do not pay heed to it. In our culture we spend a lot on dowry and weddings of our daughters but when it comes to their health, we act ignorant.

The best gift to women on their wedding would be vaccination against this killer as more than 60 per cent of those who get cervical cancer die from it,” she said.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2016

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