Cervical cancer vaccination on the way for SA pupils

The Department of Health is intensifying the fight against cervical cancer from a young age.

FILE: The department is set to vaccinate around 400,000 pupils across the country. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The primary prevention of cervical cancer must begin with the vaccination of young girls before they become sexually active - this according to the Department of Health.

The department is set to visit primary schools around the country over the next month, in a bid to vaccinate around 400,000 grade four girls against the illness.

It said an average of 6,000 women was diagnosed with cervical cancer, annually in South Africa, adding that half of them died due to the disease.

The department's Yogan Pillay explained that a human papillomavirus vaccine was more effective in the fight against cervical cancer before a female became sexually active, hence the decision to target young girls between the ages of nine and 13.

"It's very important that we prevent cervical cancer and this vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organisation."

Parents are required to give consent of the vaccine, which can cost around R1000 at a private health facility.

The department said it expected a significant drop in the number of new cases, as a result of the vaccination drive, over the next 15 years.