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K15.8bn earmarked for cancer vaccination

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By Yohane Symon:

MULUZI— We are fully prepared with the necessary treatment

The government is expected to spend K15.884 billion ($22 million) for cervical cancer vaccination campaign which targets girls aged between nine and 14.

The campaign, whose launch took place Thursday in Mangochi District, will run from 2019 to 2021.

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Health Minister, Atupele Muluzi, said this year’s vaccination will see 240 nine-year-old girls only being vaccinated, costing the government K3.6 billion ($5 million).

A dose of the vaccination costs K100,000 and each girls is expected to take two doses within six months.

The campaign will be done under the ministry’s Expanded Immunisation Programme which seeks to promote prevention of diseases through immunisation.

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“It is sad that, despite being preventable, cervical cancer remains the leading cause of death among women in Malawi. It is worrisome that Malawi is on top among the countries that register more cervical cases in the world,” Muluzi said.

In 2018, over 4,000 women tested positive to cervical cancer and 2,800 died.

Muluzi has since invited the ministry’s partners to work hand-in-hand with the government to help young girls to delay sexual debut as research shows that girls that are sexually active are more prone to contracting the virus that causes cervical cancer.

“I was shocked to learn that among the women who were diagnosed positive in Mangochi last year, there was a girl aged 15 years. This is shocking and, as a country, we need to be worried and start working towards making our girls more responsible,” Muluzi said.

Unicef Malawi representative, Tedrar Damte, commended the government for taking positive steps in combating cervical cancer, which he described as a global problem.

He said, globally, close to 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and half of them die especially in developing countries such as Malawi.

Damte appealed to parents and local authorities to clear misconceptions that might decrease uptake of the vaccine in rural communities.

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