Maldives launches Nationwide HPV Vaccination for Young Girls
21st March 2019- WHO Maldives supported and partnered with the Government of Maldives in launching the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccination Campaign for young girls between 10-14 years old in a ceremony held in Thaajuddeen School, Male’. The Nationwide HPV campaign is amongst the Health Pledges of His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for his first 100-days in office, a step in the right direction to eliminate Cervical Cancer. The historic occasion was graced by Chief Guest Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Her Excellency Yumna Maumoon, His Excellency Minister of Health Mr Abdulla Ameen, WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur, State Ministers of Health, Education, Gender, Family & Social Services, Islamic Affairs, Members of Maldives Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, representatives of civil society and International organizations, parents, teachers and school children.
Maldives demonstrates highest level of political commitment as it responds to WHO Director General’s and WHO-South East Asia Regional Director’s call for action to Eliminate Cervical Cancer by launching the HPV Campaign. The introduction of HPV Vaccine marks the historic addition of a new vaccination in the Maldives immunization programme in the last 6-7 years.
Addressing the ceremony, Health Minister Ameen said cancer is increasing at a worrisome level in Maldives, adding while every family is experiencing effects of cancer, it is important to take preventive measures. He said introducing HPV vaccine will further boost the efforts against cancer. He thanked the partners and WHO Country Office in Maldives for the technical support and work put into making this historic occasion a reality.
“I take the opportunity to acknowledge President H.E Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for his visionary leadership and political choice of investing for healthier future generations by ensuring initiation of HPV vaccination as part of 100 days program of his Government- I reiterate that this decision is grounded on robust evidence as the HPV Vaccination is the most cost-effective public health measure against cervical cancer.” said WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur in his remarks. “I acknowledge the dynamic leadership of Health Minister HE Abdulla Ameen for ensuring multisectoral partnerships and reaching to communities to ensure participation in HPV Campaign. WHO will walk every step in your journey and endeavor to eliminate cervical cancer.”
As part of the agenda, religious leader from Ministry of Islamic Affairs Dr Ibrahim Zakariyya emphasized that public health measures such as vaccination are encouraged in the religion.
On the occasion three young girls from Thaajuddeen School received vaccination certificates by Her Excellency Yumna Maumoon. In her speech, she called on the importance of taking preventive measures such as HPV Vaccine for the health of our future generations. She also advocated maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ensuring that children avoid sugary drinks and smoking.
Globally Cervical Cancer affects half a million women and kills quarter of million. One woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, making it one of the greatest threat to women’s health. Introduced globally in 2006, the HPV vaccine has been administered to more than 80 million girls across 84 countries. The HPV vaccine provides protection and helps develop immunity before exposure to the virus.
The vaccination campaign will be conducted in schools, along with education and information sessions for parents. Once the two-month campaign is successfully conducted, girls will be provided the vaccine when they reach 10 years of age and it will be included in the national vaccine schedule.
WHO stands committed to support the roll out of vaccination across the country. Together we can change the course of history and join together in making cervical cancer history in the Maldives and beyond.