Ministry of Health has received positive response from parents of the 9-13 year-old girls who are taking Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine.
In an interview, the Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele said the ministry’s officials had not registered any case of reluctance from parents and other stakeholders regarding the administering of HPV vaccine since the start of the national roll-out campaign on February 23. The campaign ends on February 27.
Dr Madigele said before rolling out the programme, they conducted exercises assessing acceptability both at health facilities and schools and it was well received. He said his ministry took the decision after realising that cervical cancer was a public health priority in Botswana because it led to morbidity and mortality among women in the country.
“The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine prevents infection from HPV types that are responsible for more than 70 per cent of cervical cancer worldwide,” he said. Dr Madigele said the HPV vaccine also protects against genital warts, adding that cervical cancer was mainly found from women aged 30 years and upwards.
The assistant minister said cervical cancer was among the commonest cancers in the country which occurs in the cervix and it has various risk factors associated with its aetiology. He said HPV was a sexually transmitted infection which could result in changes in the formation of the cells in the cervix, leading to changes that are associated with pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.
The assistant minister also cited other risk factors such as family history of cancer, smoking, having sex at an early age (prepubertal), having multiple sexual partners and having the first baby after the age of 35. Dr Madigele said all sexually active women are aised to do pap smear every two years, while those sexually active HIV infected women are to do it every year, as a screening process for the disease to detect any changes happening on the cervix at an early stage.
Responding to a question on how long does the pap smear results take, Dr Madigele said they take four to six weeks, noting that there was an improvement as the results used to take six months following the acquisition of a processing machine.
He said after realising that the National Health Laboratory was overwhelmed by pap smear slides, the government decided to outsource the services of private labs to speed up the processing of results. Dr Madigele said cancer was an abnormal growth of cells, resulting in an abnormal growth of tissue and many types of cells in the body continuously die and regenerate, and “this regeneration must produce the right type of original cell.
“He said if the body fails to get rid of the abnormal cells, they grow into a tumor. He also mentioned two types of cancer as benign and malignant cancers.
The assistant minister said the benign cancer does not spread with the body, but just remains localised where it is, whereas the malignant cancer spreads throughout the body affecting liver, lungs, brains and bones among others.
Source : BOPA
Source : Botswana Daily News