HPV Vaccine in Malaysia
Govt offers cervical cancer vaccine for girls from 2010 by Karen Arukesamy
KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 25, 2009): The government will provide all 13-year-old girls three doses of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent crevical cancer from next year onwards.
“The Cabinet has accepted and approved the Health Ministry’s proposal to provide the HPV vaccines, which is 98% effective in preventing cervical cancer for all Form One students,” Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told a press conference today.
Also present was Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, who is also the MCA Wanita chief, chairman of corporate social responsibility committee of the Obstetrical & Gynecological Society Dr R Gunasegaran, and director of Lim Foo Yong Holdings O. B. Lim.
“This programme will cost the government RM150million for 300,000 girls per year and will be done for all form one batch students annually,” he said after officiating the MCA Crisis Relief Squad (CRSM) mobile clinic and cervical cancer and health awareness campaign here at Wisma MCA.
The programme will most probably be conducted in schools for Form One students in the stages. After the first dose, the second dose will be given after a lapse of two or three months and after six months for the third dose.
“All 13-year-old girls in Malaysia will obtain it regardless whether they are from the public schools or private schools,” Liow said, in response to a question.
He said the HPV vaccine that will be provided is for HPV type 16 and 18, the more common types of HPV amongst Malaysian women.
Liow said it has been proven that the HPV vaccine had reduced cervical cancer by 70%.
“The vaccine is already available in the private sector for RM1,200 for three doses but today the CRSM team is providing the vaccine at about 40%-45% lower price compared to market price.”
He said the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ’s study in 2007 showed that the government spends RM382 million for cervical cancer treatment a year.
“In contrast, providing the vaccine will only cost RM150 million a year to prevent cervical cancer. Thus the best way would be to choose a cost effective method and prevent the cancer instead of spending more to cure it,” Liow explained.
He said the Health Ministry will continue to negotiate with the vaccine manufacturer to reduce the vaccine price, however added that it could only be done with mass purchasing scale.
Liow said the government will do the mass purchase from next year onwards when the vaccines will be provided for the form one students.
“We hope to be able to negotiate a reduction to about RM500 per person for three doses of HPV vaccine instead of the current RM1,200,” he said.
Liow reminded that although the vaccines are available and the government is looking at ways to reduce the price, Pap Smear tests must be continued as these are the two best preventive steps for cervical cancer, the second most dangerous and frequent disease for women after breast cancer.
He urged all women and girls aged between nine and 26 to obtain the vaccine and women above 25 should take the Pap Smear test every three years.
“The cervical cancer incidents in the country is 16.1 for every 100,000 women, which means close to 2,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the country,” he said in his speech, adding that it is very high compared to developed countries like United States and Australia.
Another peculiar findings of cervical cancer in Malaysia , Liow said, is that women from the Chinese ethic group are at higher risk with a rate of 23.2 for every 100,000 women, compared to 16.4 in ethnic Indian women and 8.2 in ethnic Malay women.
“I have asked for a specific study to be done to find out the reason for such an occurrence,” he said.