The Straits Times
TWO vaccines available here can protect women against a virus which causes cervical cancer, a disease which kills one woman here every five days.
Yet, only three in 100 women have gone for it.
One major obstacle: ignorance.
Few women here know that the human papilloma virus (HPV) can give rise to cervical cancer, the sixth most common cancer among women here, with nearly one case diagnosed every day.
Another obstacle: cost.
The two vaccines, one produced by Merck Sharp & Dohme and the other by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, cost $400 for a series of three jabs – not cheap for some women.
That is why Member of Parliament Halimah Yacob is calling for the vaccine to be made compulsory for girls aged 13 here, as is being done in other developed countries.
Britain started its national programme in September 2008 among its secondary schools, and Australia did so the year before. Closer to home, Malaysia announced last year that all its 13-year-old girls would be vaccinated from this year.
Madam Halimah, who used to chair the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, reckons it will cost Malaysia $63 million a year to protect an estimated 300,000 13-year-old girls.
Speaking at the relaunch of the Power Over Cervical Cancer (POCC) website yesterday, she also suggested opening up Medisave funds for this vaccination.
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