SINGAPORE - More women are being screened for cervical cancer with Pap smear tests but the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) is not satisfied.
The charity now wants to eradicate cervical cancer, the eighth most common cause of cancer death among women here.
Dr Ravindran Kanesvaran, vice-chairman of the society, announced on Saturday (Oct 27) plans to encourage girls and younger women to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.
The HPV Education and Immunisation Programme, which will be rolled out over the next three years, aims to raise greater awareness of cervical cancer prevention and to encourage girls aged nine to 26 to go for HPV vaccination.
Dr Kanesvaran said there is a need for better outreach and education, citing local studies that have shown that there is poor uptake of HPV vaccination among young people as well as a lack of knowledge of cervical cancer and the vaccine, which has been around in Singapore for about a decade.
He added that the SCS will reach out to about 4,000 secondary school girls through talks in schools over the next three years.
He said that the society is committed to provide the vaccination for free for up to 2,000 needy beneficiaries between the ages of nine and 13 for the next three years.
American healthcare firm MSD is sponsoring the first 350 doses of the vaccine to kick-start the programme.
Funding for the outreach activities and vaccinations will come from Tote Board.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, and Environment and Water Resources, who was at the event on Saturday, encouraged Singaporeans to protect their own health.
"Taking immediate steps is important especially as the (HPV) vaccination has a recommended window for girls between nine and 26," she said.
More than 100 people attended the event at the SCS' Cancer Rehabilitation Centre in Jurong. The SCS also currently provides free Pap smear screening at its clinic in Bishan as part of efforts to detect cervical cancer early. Since the service began in 2016, more than 40,000 women have undergone checks.