Basic Education on roll-out of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine programme

HPV vaccine to be rolled out in schools

The departments of Basic Education and Health will soon be descending on schools across the country to administer the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to young girls.

In South Africa 5 743 new cases of cervical cancer are reported each year, with about 3 027 of these fatal. Almost 80% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV. The vaccination prevents the infection of the virus from developing on the cervix.

The Departments of Basic Education (DBE) hosted a consultative meeting on Monday, 3 February 2014 with the South African National Consultative Forum, SA Principals Association, Unions, SGB organisations, Department of Health officials and others to familiarise stakeholders with the rollout plan.

Addressing the meeting, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said that cervical cancer was the second most common type of cancer found in women.

“About 500 000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and the majority of fatalities occur in the developing world,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

“In South Africa we have 3 000 women dying from this disease each year. The National Development Plan calls for action to prevent illness and lower the burden of disease on the country. Thus we are pursuing the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that sexually naive girls are vaccinated against HPV.”

The rollout of the programme will see the vaccine administered to up to 500 000 Grade four girls at 17 000 schools in all corners of South Africa. The vaccination will consist of two phases; the first from 10 March to 11 April 2014 and the follow up round of vaccinations in September/October this year.

Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, hailed the rollout as a “must” for all young girls.

“We want to make sure that every effort is taken to improve the lives and health of our learners and the administration of this vaccine is a step towards that. From 2014, all girls in Grade four will receive the vaccine,” said Minister Motshekga.

“We do not foresee any major disruptions to teaching time but it is important that school management is on board. This process will be more efficient if we communicate effectively so there are no distortions and no myths.”

Issued by: Department of Basic Education

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