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City of Joburg protects female learners against cervical cancer Print E-mail
08 February 2018

Health workers from the City of Joburg’s Health Department will visit public primary and special schools across the city as part of a campaign to provide the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to female learners.

The campaign, which started in 2014 and is conducted annually, is a joint intervention by the City of Johannesburg together with the Gauteng Department of Health and the Basic Education Department. A total of 518 schools and 30 000 learners will be reached across the city.

The vaccine is administered in a schedule of two doses at six month intervals, targeting all young girls in grade four who are nine years and older. The first dose (HPV1) will be administered from 07 February to 16 March 2018. The second dose (HPV2) will resume on 07 August and will continue until 14 September 2018.

The purpose of this intervention is to prevent cervical cancer and also protect learners against worm infestations. About 80% of sexually active people will get an HPV infection during their life. Around 9 000 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in Southern Africa per year, with an estimated age-standardized incidence rate of 31.5 per 100 000 women.

The high prevalence of HIV infection, late initiation of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), unscreened population and the high incidence of cervical cancer all suggest that HPV infections and precursors to cervical cancer are both unusually common among Southern African women, and may be on the increase.

“Cervical cancer is the only type of cancer that is 100% preventable,” said Cllr Mpho Phalatse, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development.

Although cervical cancer is preventable and treatable, globally nearly 500 000 women suffer from the disease every year, and more than 270 000 die. About 80% of these deaths occur in developing countries, where cervical cancer is now the leading cause of cancer-related death among women.

Primary prevention through vaccination against the virus stops the disease before it can start. However, vaccination takes decades to impact. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the number of women with cervical cancer will double by 2020, even with vaccination.

Parents and care givers will receive the consent forms from schools which should be signed and returned to the schools. No leaner will be vaccinated without parental consent.

MMC Phalatse encouraged all parents and caregivers to assist health workers by signing consent forms that will allow the health workers to administer the vaccine to female learners.

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Last Updated on 08 February 2018