Mauritius: A one-day Training Programme held in Port Louis today for some 75 officers of the Ministry of Health and Wellness kickstarted the National Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccination Campaign, which would lead to an extensive programme of HPV Vaccination, targeting not only girls but also, for the first time in Mauritius, boys aged 9 to 15 years old.
The training programme was followed by the launch of four videos as part of the sensitisation campaign, which aims at informing the population on the benefits of getting vaccinated against HPV.
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal; the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Mauritius, Dr Anne Marie Ancia; and other personalities were present at the event.
In his address, Dr Jagutpal underlined that HPV was commonly the main cause of cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men and might as well cause head, neck and anus cancers both in women and men. He stressed that HPV vaccination was part of the National Cancer Control Programme 2022-2025 and had proven to be very effective in reducing the risk of HPV-related cancers.
Recalling that the National HPV Vaccination Programme was initiated in 2016 in both public and private schools for nine-year-old girls, the Minister stated that more than 88 000 girls had been vaccinated, in line with WHO recommendations, against HPV with the Cervarix Vaccine. This Vaccine is a bivalent HPV vaccine directed against two strands of HPV most associated with cervical cancer, namely types 16 and 18.
The Minister of Health and Wellness announced that a Nonavalent Vaccine would soon be introduced in Mauritius to provide additional protection against HPV for both boys and girls. The Nonavalent Vaccine protects against nine types of cancers and Sexually Transmissible Diseases (STDs), namely HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
The contribution of the Country Office of the WHO and the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology in the implementation of the HPV Vaccination Programme was highlighted, too, by Dr Jagutpal.
He added that the WHO and the Education Ministry would be precious collaborators in the new National Vaccination Campaign, where over 108 000 children would be vaccinated.
Moreover, the Minister encouraged parents to have their sons and daughters vaccinated to protect them against developing cancer at a later stage of their life.
On that score, he urged the staff of the Ministry to seize the opportunity of the training programme to significantly obtain more comprehensive knowledge on HPV so that they would successfully transmit the relevant information to parents.
For her part, the WHO Representative in Mauritius pointed out that the vaccination of young boys and girls against HPV would not only contribute to the decrease of the incidence and prevalence of another communicable disease but also to the elimination of cervical cancer. She added that it is now known that cervical cancer can be eliminated, as 99% of cases are the results of infection by sexually transmitted pathogens, the HPV, against which there is a vaccine.
Dr Anne Marie Ancia hence called on each and everyone to embrace the commendable initiative of the Ministry of Health and Wellness and push for the vaccination of young boys and girls against HPV. She was of the view that this was the best way to protect the health of the younger generations.
National HPV Vaccination Campaign
As part of the National HPV Vaccination Campaign, the training programme held today for the Officers of the Ministry of Health and Wellness focused on the implementation of the campaign, the importance of HPV Vaccination, the cold chain maintenance and administration of HPV Vaccine and waste management, among others.
As for the four videos, which are part of the communication strategies to raise awareness of the public on the necessity for HPV vaccination, they purport to the HPV, the HPV vaccine, the reasons for parents to vaccinate their children, and why boys should also get vaccinated. Parents can call on the hotlines 141 or 8924 to obtain additional information on the HPV Vaccine.