Meeting of Steering Committee of EPI held

LAHORE  -   Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Dr. Jamal Nasir has informed that Punjab may introduce Human Papillomavirus Vaccine in its routine immunization schedule as experts have agreed to initiation of data collection in the Steering Committee meeting of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). The minister told that the EPI Steering Committee is the apex technical forum for immunization in the province having leading experts from the Academia and national medical bodies. He said, “Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with 604,000 new cases in 2020. About 90% of the deaths by cervical cancer are in low- and middleincome countries.” He shared that Cervical Cancer ranks as the third leading cause of female cancers in Pakistan. Countrywide, he added, 3,197 deaths are reported each year due to cervical cancer and 73.9 million women aged 15 and older are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Current data indicates higher prevalence ratio among young adolescent girls to be attributed to virus exposure. He said that the UN SDG target 3.4 envisages 30% reduction in mortality from cervical cancer by 2030 and till that, about 90% of girls must be fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 15 years of age. The minister told that a Technical Working Group will be formed that will develop systems for data collection and analysis. “We need to collect, consolidate and analyze all data for evidence-based decision making. The TWG will develop a Cancer Registry based on screening at secondary and tertiary healthcare system. The Group will work around three areas: Access, Demand and Surveillance and share recommendations accordingly. If credible evidence is available, Punjab might introduce the vaccine by 2025.” Earlier, a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) was held at the Directorate General Health Services Punjab.

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