Batac: Ilocos Norte town leads way in achieving cervical cancer-free PH

photo courtesy by Leilanie Adriano

Nine-year old Athena Ysabel Bonilla of Barangay 12, Banna, Ilocos Norte, received her human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine on Friday, shielding her against cervical cancer.

Bonilla, along with over 1,000 girls aged 9-14 in Banna town completed their immunization on the same day, making it the first municipality nationwide to achieve a 90 percent vaccination rate towards eliminating cervical cancer which remains the second most common cancer among women worldwide.

Although most infections with HPV are harmless and go by itself, some types cause cervical cancer in women.

In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an estimated 600,000 women worldwide diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 300,000 women died from the disease annually. The primary target group in most of the countries recommending HPV vaccination is young adolescent girls, aged 9-14.

In the Philippines, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer and the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in females, with 37.8 million Filipino women remaining at risk.

To safeguard the young girls of Banna from this virus, Mayor Mary Chrislyn Abadilla, a physician by profession, persuaded her constituents to support the immunization program being spearheaded by the WHO with the help of the Department of Health and Department of Education.

“For this year, we have already covered (immunized) all girls aged 9-14, and we plan that those who will turn 9 years old next year will get vaccinated. We will just wait for them,” said Abadilla, as she initiated a community-based approach to strengthen the government’s cervical cancer awareness program.

“I was surprised that throughout the country, we were the first to achieve this. If we want to achieve something on a national level, we must work hand in hand and do something about it,” she added.

In time for the celebration of the cervical cancer awareness month, Dr. Paula Paz Sydiongco, regional director of the Department of Health-Center for Health and Development in Region 1, lauded the efforts of the Baan town government for the successful implementation of the immunization program.

“Political commitment and political will are the driving force behind any successful health initiative. Congratulations to Mayor Chrislyn for demonstrating unwavering support for women’s health to inspire change and create a lasting impact on nationwide health for our people,” Sydiongco said in her speech during the mass HVP vaccination in the town.

Meanwhile, the state-run Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and
Medical Center (MMMH&MC) in Batac City is also set to conduct free cervical screening on May 17, 2024.

Dr. Modesty Leaño, officier-in-charge medical center chief of the MMMH&MC underscored the importance of early detection, highlighting that cervical cancer is highly treatable when discovered in its early stages.

The Batac Hospital is one of the 31 cancer treatment sites of the Department of Health designated to conduct free screening and consultations to promote early cancer detection and improve treatment outcomes. (Leilanie Adriano)

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