5 Mar 2008

Marshalls launches nationwide anti-cervical cancer vaccine drive

11:30 am on 5 March 2008

The Marshall Islands is launching a nationwide campaign to immunize young women against cervical cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is funding the $4.5 million cost of the HPV vaccines needed for the estimated 15,000 women in the 12-26 year age group in the country.

Cervical cancer in the Marshall Islands and throughout Micronesia is six-to-seven times higher than in the US.

The Marshall Islands Ministry of Health will role out a new anti-cancer vaccine in May, using Mother's Day to launch the drive.

The drug costs about $120 for each dose and three shots over a six-month period are needed for it to be effective.

The Minister of Health Amenta Matthew says that cervical cancer is the second leading type of cancer in the Marshall Islands.

She says the aim is to get women in this high-risk group fully immunized through this campaign, and then in following years, provide the vaccine to all 12-year-old girls each year.

Minister Mathew admits the real challenge for this campaign will be getting immunization teams to remote outer islands.