HPV vaccine to be available at all health facilities: Pohamba

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Health and Social Services is hard at work to make the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine available at all public health facilities in the country, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said on Sunday.

He made this announcement during the opening of the three-day 8th Stop Cervical, Breast, and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference in the capital.

The conference is organised by the Office of the First Lady under the theme ‘Moving Forward to end cervical cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention’.

HPV is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) virus from the papillomavirus family which is capable of infecting humans. It establishes productive infections in keratinocytes of the skin or mucous membranes.

“This is our comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control plan, which also includes screening and immediate treatment for pre-cancer as well as referrals for further diagnosis and treatment in all cases where necessary,” said the Head of State.

Pohamba said all Namibian health facilities have been capacitated to provide health education for women on self-breast examinations, adding that mothers are also encouraged to breastfeed for six months exclusively, as a means of reducing the incidences of breast cancer.

The president noted that mammography and other diagnostic services to detect cancer among women and men are also available at all health facilities.

He encouraged Namibian men to be aware of the early signs of prostate cancer and the need for regular medical check-ups in order to facilitate early treatment, whenever needed.

Pohamba said his government is currently providing social grants to assist those undergoing treatment for different forms of cancer and their families as they cope with the challenges.

The Head of State said the government will further intensify measures to control the use of tobacco, saying tabacco is dangerous and is a major cause of cancer.

In 2005, Namibia ratified the World Health Organisation (WHO) framework convention on Tabacco Control, as one of the tools in the fight to reduce tobacco use.

In terms of the Tabacco Control regulations, which came into force on 01 July 2014, all public buildings and facilities in Namibia have been declared non-smoking areas.

Cancer has become one of the major non-communicable diseases in the world, and incidences of cancer continue to grow at an alarming rate due to poor diets, life style choices as well as environmental and behavioural factors.

“This highlights the urgent need to implement prevention and control strategies to curb the disease, deaths and disabilities caused by cancer,” said Pohamba.

The conference ends on Tuesday.

SOURCE: NAMPA