Some 75 officers of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, kickstarted the National Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccination Campaign, has followed a one-day Training Programme, which would lead to an extensive programme of HPV Vaccination, targeting not only girls but also, for the first time in Mauritius, boys aged 9 to 15 years old.
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal; the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Mauritius, Dr Anne Marie Ancia; and other personalities were present at the event.
In his address, Dr Jagutpal underlined that HPV was commonly the main cause of cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men, and might as well cause head, neck and anus cancers both in women and men. He stressed that HPV vaccination was part of the National Cancer Control Programme 2022-2025 and had proven to be very effective in reducing the risk of HPV-related cancers.
The Minister of Health and Wellness announced that a Nonavalent Vaccine would soon be introduced in Mauritius to provide additional protection against HPV for both boys and girls. The Nonavalent Vaccine protects against nine types of cancers and Sexually Transmissible Diseases (STDs) namely HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
The contribution of the Country Office of the WHO and the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology in the implementation of the HPV Vaccination Programme was highlighted, too, by Dr Jagutpal. He added that the WHO and the Education Ministry would be precious collaborators in the new National Vaccination Campaign where over 108 000 children would be vaccinated.
Moreover, the Minister encouraged parents to have their sons and daughters vaccinated to protect them against developing cancer at a later stage of their life. On that score, he urged the staff of the Ministry to seize the opportunity of the training programme to significantly obtain more comprehensive knowledge on HPV so that they would transmit successfully the relevant information to parents.
Dr Anne Marie Ancia, the WHO Representative in Mauritius pointed out that the vaccination of young boys and girls against HPV would not only contribute in the decrease of the incidence and prevalence of another communicable disease, but also in the elimination of cervical cancer. She added that it is now known that cervical cancer can be eliminated, as 99% of cases are the results of infection by sexually transmitted pathogens, the HPV, against which there is a vaccine.