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Girls aged 9 to 14 to get cervical cancer vaccines through schools

  • Published
    23rd Dec, 2022
Context

The Centre has said cervical cancer vaccine for girls aged between 9 and 14 years will be provided primarily through schools.

Details:

  • The decision has been taken on the recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group for Immunization (NTAGI).
  • It has recommended the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine in the ‘Universal Immunization Programme’.
  • The Centre has informed the state and Union Territories (UTs), to start collating the number of girls enrolled in classes 5th to 10th in each district.
  • For registration, recording and reporting of vaccination numbers, the U-WIN App would be used.

About Cervical cancer:

  • It is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix - the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
  • Various strains of the Human papillomavirus (HPV) play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
  • When exposed to HPV, the body's immune system typically prevents the virus from harming. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.
  • Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women
  • It is estimated that HPV types 16 and 18 (HPV-16 and HPV-18) together contribute to approximately 70% of all invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide.

Indian Scenario:

  • Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most prevalent cancer in India.
  • It accounts for nearly one-fourth of the world’s cervical cancer deaths despite being largely preventable.
  • Current estimates indicate that every year approximately 1.25 lakh women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 75 thousand die from the disease in India.

Is it curable?

  • Cervical cancer is a preventable and curable disease, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
  • The HPV vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if the vaccine is given before girls or women are exposed to the virus.
  • Prevention through vaccination is one of the pillars of the global strategy adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the elimination of cervical cancer.

Which Vaccine will be used?

  • India is expected to roll out the indigenously developed CERVAVAC vaccine by mid-2023.
  • The vaccine has been received by the Drugs Controller General of India’s approval.
  • It has been cleared by the government advisory panel NTAGI for use in the public health programme.
  • It will be a one-time catch-up vaccine will be provided for 9- to 14-year-old adolescent girls.
  • Subsequently, it will be introduced at 9 years.

About CERVAVAC vaccine:             

  • It is the first indigenously developed Human Papillomavirus Vaccine.
  • Manufacturer: Pune-based Serum Institute of India in coordination with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Human papillomavirus:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.
  • There are more than 100 types of HPV.
  • More than 40 types of HPV are spread through direct sexual contact.
  • Out of these 40, two cause genital warts, while about a dozen of HPV cause different types of cancer including cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar and vaginal.

Types of HPV Vaccines:

  • Quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil): It protects against four types of HPV (HPV 16, 18, 6 and 11). The latter two strains cause genital warts.
  • Bivalent vaccine (Cervarix): It protects against HPV 16 and 18 only.
  • Non-valent vaccine (Gardasil 9): It protects against nine strains of HPV.
    • These vaccines prevent cervical cancer in women and girls who have not yet been exposed to the virus.
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