10 Sep 2008

Fiji hopes to vaccinate thousands of pre-teenage girls against cervical cancer

4:22 pm on 10 September 2008

From next month, thousands of girls in Fiji aged between nine and twelve will be eligible for a free vaccination against cervical cancer.

The manufacturer, Merck, has donated the Gardasil vaccine against the human papillomarvirus and genital warts, which can lead to the cancer.

Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in Fiji, with between 100 and 200 women affected each year.

The ministry of health's curative health services director, Dr Ami Chandra, says it expects to save about 50 lives a year through the vaccination that will be distributed in schools.

"We've got our immunisation distribution team, mainly it will involve the school girls all over Fiji. We've got our network and it will administered in a similar way. We're targeting around 37 000 students for the full three doses of the vaccine."

Dr Ami Chandra says they hope to repeat the vaccination programme next year and include other age groups, but need to secure funding.