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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Medical authorities take pro-active stance in combating killer of females here

It was a decision that many feel was too slowly acted upon - but now, females in the southeast Asian nation of Laos are lining up to take the HPV vaccine, to prevent cervical cancer. HPV vaccine is being introduced in the coming year in order to enable poorer countries to benefit from the newest vaccines.

The HPV vaccine protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, which in turn prevents the infections that cause 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, which in turn prevents the infections that cause 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancer.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Laos, cervical cancer, HPV vaccine


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The program is still fairly new. For example, the vaccine only started to be offered in the United Kingdom and in other developed nations a short five years ago.

The project in Laos is being organized with the support of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI.

The HPV vaccine protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, which in turn prevents the infections that cause 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancer.

"I remember she was in a lot of pain," a grandmother who saw her adult wither and die from the disease says. "The family did everything it could, but she died. I am very proud to be immunized - and to have the HPV vaccine free of charge."

Cervical cancer is a much bigger cancer killer in developing countries as these nations lack a national screening program, which can detect per-cancerous changes in the cervix.

Most cases are discovered too late in Laos. Cancer treatment in one of the world's poorest nations is also limited, as Laos has no radiotherapy. Patients who are able to afford it are sent to Thailand.

"Approximately 275,000 women die every year from cervical cancer and over 85 percent of those deaths are in the developing world," Helen Evans, GAVI deputy chief executive says.

"The number of deaths is projected to rise dramatically, so that's why it is absolutely crucial that this vaccine is introduced. The HPV vaccine represents a very significant commitment to women's health in the coming decades."

A senior oncologist, Dr. Keokedthong Phongsavan says that the limited treatment options that presents the biggest problem here.

"I feel helpless," Dr. Phongsavan says. "Patients are often diagnosed very late, and then there is often very little I can do to help them. I have to send them home to die."

The mortality rate for cervical cancer in Laos is six times that of the United Kingdom.

The HPV vaccine is the most expensive of all childhood vaccines. Laos needs to make a token financial contribution to the program and also has to supply the nurses and organize distribution of the vaccine.

The two-year pilot project in Laos involves about 20,000 girls being immunized. If successful, it will lead to a national roll-out for the vaccine.

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