HPV vaccination programme in progress
NEWS

Here’s how Sikkim is fighting cervical cancer

The tiny northeastern state takes the lead in successfully initiating the HPV vaccination programme among girls aged 9-14 years

Gangtok, Sikkim: In another milestone, Sikkim has become the first state in India to initiate its fight against cervical cancer. So far, the state has managed to administer the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to about 97% of the girl children in government, private and community schools in state.

The HPV vaccination is important for the prevention of infection with certain types of HPV, which is the major cause of cervical cancer.

“The coverage has been excellent and we achieved almost 97% target. This was a very important initiative taken by the government of Sikkim. Up to 1,122 schools participated and 24,429 girl students have been covered so far,” said Phumzay Denzongpa, state immunisation officer, Sikkim.

“The vaccine is to be given in two doses. While the minimum gap is six months, the maximum is 12-15 months. As part of the programme that started on July 30, we completed the first dose on August 14. The second dose will start in the last week of February 2019, once the schools reopen after their winter vacation,” added Denzongpa.

The HPV vaccination is important for the prevention of infection with certain types of HPV, which is the major cause of cervical cancer

Sikkim is the first state in the country to introduce the HPV programme after Punjab that introduced it only on a small scale. The state government initiated and implemented the vaccination programme with the help of the World Heath Organization (WHO) and the UNICEF, free of cost.

“In Sikkim, we have introduced this vaccine for girls aged 9-14 years of age -- in private, government and community schools... The vaccination is free of cost... the cost for the vaccination is one of the most expensive ones but we managed to get it at a subsidised rate...” she added.

Globally, cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer and, eventually, death, especially in women.