School children from Bartica and surrounding communities in Region Seven, participated in the national launch of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign on Sunday.
Junior Health Minister Dr Karen Cummings administered the first vaccine to nine-year-old Shoneta Jeffrey a student of the Agatash Primary school.
Dr Cummings reminded residents the campaign is part of the Ministry of Public Health’s plan to control the number of cervical cancer cases. Upon the recommendation of a technical group, the campaign will target girls nine to 16 years of age, with the end goal being ninety percent coverage of the target population.
The minister also emphasised that the HPV vaccine does not replace screening for cervical cancer and that adolescents must be educated on safe sexual practices and other risk factors for cervical cancer.
Meanwhile, UNICEF representative, Sylvie Fouet, underscored that parents are instrumental in ensuring that their children are vaccinated. She noted that prevention of any disease is the surest means of eradicating it.
Young girls in the targeted population will need to take two doses of the vaccines which will take effect in about 10 to 20 years when they are adult women.
The Vaccination campaign is conducted under the purview of the Maternal and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Public Health.
At the ceremony held at the Bartica Community Centre ground, there were representatives from the region, the ministries of Education and Health, PAHO/WHO and UNICEF.