URDANETA City, Pangasinan – Amid alarming figures among women afflicted with cervical cancer, the local government cited the urgent need to ramp up measures to protect girls aged nine to 14 years old against what has been referred to as the second most common cancer among Filipino women – cervical cancer.
A common sexually transmitted infection, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is believed to be responsible for over 90% of cervical cancers and deemed prevalent cancer among women aged 15 to 44. Statistics reveal that almost 8,000 Filipino women are diagnosed with the disease annually, leading to over 4,000 deaths, or roughly 11 deaths daily.
To this end, the city government boasted of its ordinance providing support to the cervical cancer elimination agenda and implementing the HPV immunization program in schools and communities within its jurisdiction. The ordinance focuses on the intensified implementation of the School-Based HPV Immunization program simultaneous with that of persons identified well within the category of high-risk.
During the kick-off ceremony for Urdaneta City’s SHIELD Against Cervical Cancer in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Healthy Pilipinas, and healthcare company MSD in the Philippines, the local government commenced the vaccination of around 300 recipients, which was a mix of grade 4 students and high-risk populations such as teenage mothers, in contracting HPV-related diseases.
An appeal for additional HPV vaccine doses
However, the local government admitted that the fight against cervical cancer won’t be a ‘walk in the park’ even as CDRRMO Chief and Executive Assistant, Sonny Domagas – on behalf of Mayor Julio Parayno III, gave a premium on all the help they could get from the national government agencies, including DepEd and DOH and the parents of unvaccinated adolescents.
“So we complemented our HPV vaccination campaign to outside target… because the target then are those aged nine to 14 years old of grade 4… so ang ginawa po ng ating siyudadnagpasa po tayo ng isang ordinansa kung saan po kasama naang ating population at risk,” Dr. Rachel Parayno, CHO and first lady of Urdaneta, explained.
With a long list of target vaccine recipients slated for the entire month of December, the City Health Office (CHO) head called on the DOH to make an additional rollout of doses to cover the 7,000 recipients of the HPV jabs.
“Baka sakali po matulungan nyo (DOH) kami sa additional doses na kailangan namin para sa community implementation.”
Dr. Rachel Parayno, CHO and first lady of Urdaneta City, discusses the LGU’s efforts in combating Cervical Cancer along with the city-wide health programs that are currently being implemented.
Mr. Domagas expressed apprehension over the extremely high mortality rate of persons – especially women who have unwittingly developed cervical cancer, which he said could have been avoided if detected via screening during the early years.
With that being said, Dr. Parayno announced the city’s benchmarking to contribute to fighting cervical cancer through local legislative and executive measures. This is pertaining to the City Council Ordinance 24, which marked the first-ever local legislation supporting the cervical cancer elimination agenda and implementing the HPV immunization program in schools and communities within its jurisdiction.
Urdaneta City has long been embarking on the need to empower women (especially adolescents) which would only be possible with the proper health care. Shown in the photo (seated) are Grade 4 students moments after the ceremonial vaccination.
With a fleet of health professionals at the helm of eight city health officers scattered in the city’s 334 barangays, Dra. Parayno believes Urdaneta City is capable enough to cover the needs of adolescents who are being wooed to seriously consider HPV vaccination.
“As health professionals, we at the CHO are tediously working to ensure that all adolescents and young adults reach the maximum attainable status of well-being” she added.