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IFPA welcomes Minister Harney’s announcement on a Cervical Cancer Vaccination Programme

By August 4, 2008News

– Release date: 05 August 2008

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has welcomed today’s announcement that a cervical cancer vaccination programme for 12 year old girls will commence in September 2009.

Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association said,
“Today’s announcement by Minister Harney is good news. It means Ireland is catching up with the ten other EU countries along with Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand who have implemented a similar programme.”

“The public health benefits of this vaccination in the prevention of cervical cancer are well known and internationally acknowledged. It is now important that the implementation of the programme involves a properly funded education and awareness raising component. This will help dispel any myths around the vaccine and allay potential fears of parents and children.”

However, the IFPA is disappointed that the Minister has decided not to put in place a once-off catch-up programme, for girls aged 13-15.

Niall Behan added that “this is a perplexing decision as it was recommended by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) as the most cost effective strategy.”

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Notes for the editor:
Cervical cancer is a major global health problem, with nearly 500,000 new cases occurring worldwide each year. Across Europe, 50,000 women develop cervical cancer and 25,000 die each year from this preventable disease.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 15-44 in Ireland. (WHO/ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cervical Cancer (HPV Information Centre)

In Ireland, 209 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 73 women, on average, die from the disease each year (National Cancer Registry Ireland (unpublished analysis, 2007). Incidence and mortality for invasive cervical cancer in Ireland 1994-2005)

Trends show the number of women dying from cervical cancer in Ireland has increased by 1.5 per cent every year since 1978.

In Europe, a woman dies from cervical cancer every 18 minutes.

Cervical cancer is caused by a common virus, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual intercourse or intimate skin-to-skin genital contact. Up to 80 per cent of women will come into contact with the virus at some point in their lifetime.