Legislator commits to championing cervical cancer elimination through prevention

Legislator commits to championing cervical cancer elimination through prevention

/ 01:09 PM April 09, 2024

House Committee on Health Vice Chairperson and BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co vowed to prioritize the expansion of the School-Based Immunization Program (SBI) for human papillomavirus (HPV) in both public and private schools to protect female learners from cervical cancer. 

“We’re looking into policies in the National Immunization Program (NIP) that can be done to promote the 100% elimination of cervical cancer in the country, such as instituting HPV vaccination as part of the school-based immunization (SBI) program,” Co said in a health forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM). 

Cervical cancer is the second most frequent cancer among women in the Philippines, with almost 8,000 women diagnosed and over 4,000 dying from the disease annually or 12 Filipinas dying in a day. Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is preventable through immunization.

BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co, cervical cancer advocate

BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co, cervical cancer advocate

Co emphasized the importance of making HPV vaccination a routine program in both public and private schools, targeting girls aged 9-14 years old and out-of-school age groups. By expanding the School-Based Immunization Program, the Philippines has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and provide lasting protection to thousands of Filipina youth and women.

Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is more effective if given to younger children. This is because pre-teens produce more antibodies against HPV compared to older adolescents after HPV vaccination.

Receiving the vaccines earlier would also mean that young learners get protected before they are even exposed to HPV, which significantly lowers the risk of developing cervical cancer in the future.

Co also explained that despite the importance of primary prevention, the allotted National Budget for preventable non-communicable diseases has been reduced by 40% from the 2023 budget due to the devolution of health commodities, potentially slowing down efforts to curb the rising cases of HPV and cervical cancer in the country.

In response, the legislator echoed her commitment to continue advocating for policies that will expand the roles of screening, vaccines, and preventive measures against non-communicable diseases.

“This representation believes that the devolution policy on health programs should be reviewed and perhaps amended.” 

“The Committee on Health is currently working on a proposed legislation that would expand the National Immunization Program for all ages wherein the immunization, including cancer, should be considered a national program.” 

“I will file a House Resolution to review the pertinent law and policies and implementation of the Cancer Program focusing on cervical cancer,” said Co. “I shall arrange a briefing or legislative inquiry in the House of Representatives and see to it that all the stakeholders here are invited .”

Co reaffirms that many legislators are also one with the fight against cervical cancer, and they support the public’s call to prioritize cancer prevention and grassroots initiatives such as the school-based immunization program.

Patient advocates, healthcare experts, and civil society organizations can only remain hopeful for the implementation of policies that will allow a future where no woman has to suffer from this preventable disease.


TAGS: BrandRoom, cervical cancer, immunization, Vaccination

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