Wednesday
February 22
2017

A highly preventable disease with a vaccine is silently killing Indian women in their prime

A cancer with an effective vaccine is killing thousands of women.

Last year, nearly 70,000 Indians died of cervical cancer, more than anywhere else in the world. It’s the second-most common cancer among women in the country, accounting for 23% of all cases. It’s a hidden disease, often taking 20 years to show itself.

“We lose one mother every eight minutes, usually in their 30s or 40s, often just at the time when families need them the most,” said RK Grover, director and CEO of the Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI).

Cervical cancer, in most cases, is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted. As India rapidly becomes more sexually liberated, girls will be more vulnerable. It’s time we saw this as a matter of public health affecting the futures of families, and not just a niche “women’s” issue. But even today, Indians remain ambivalent about the vaccine that can prevent this deadly disease.

Bad experience: After years of hesitation, the Indian government has finally launched a pilot programme to make the HPV vaccine a part of the public health programme. In November 2016, the Punjab government launched a pilot programme, providing free HPV vaccines to girls in government schools.

Source: Quartz (link opens in a new window)

Categories
Health Care
Tags
cancer, healthcare, Non-communicable diseases, public health, vaccine