MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Health and the Philippine Obstetric and Gynecological Society (POGS) today revealed that free cervical cancer screening will be offered to women 21 years old and above in 65 DOH-retained and selected private tertiary hospitals nationwide throughout the month of May in observance of ‘Cervical Cancer Awareness Month’.
According to Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer afflicting women worldwide.[pq]In the Philippines approximately 12 Filipino women die daily due to cervical cancer (2010 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates).[/pq]
Garin added that a Pap smear or visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA) should be done on women who are sexually active or had a history of sexual contact as cervical cancer screening methods. Cervical cancer can be treated and cured if early detection is done.
Cervical cancer control is one of the major priorities of the DOH thru the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Several strategies are being done by program geared towards the prevention of cervical cancer among women. The most recent program is the inclusion of cervical cancer screening through VIA in the Tamang Serbisyo sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya (TSEKAP) benefit under Philhealth.
“Babae, Mahalaga ka”, a public-private partnership program of the DOH, POGS, Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of the Philippines (SGOP), Philippines Society for Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy (PSCPC), and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) aims to elevate the advocacy on cervical cancer awareness and prevention (including screenings and vaccination) in the national level.
Nearly all cervical cancer cases are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HIV). In partnership of Department of Education and Department of the Interior and Local Government, the DOH will roll-out this August its School-Based HPV Immunization Program. Two (2) doses of HPV vaccines will be given for free to girls in grade four aged 9-13 years old in public elementary schools in priority provinces.
These 20 priority provinces are North Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao Oriental, Sulu, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in Mindanao; Iloilo and Negros Occidental in Western Visayas; Cebu and Negros Oriental in Central VIsayas; Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Leyte in Eastern Visayas; Quezon Camarines Sur, Masbate in Southern Luzon; and Apayao, Ifugao and Pangasinan in Northern Luzon.
Meanwhile, some of the DOH retained hospitals can provide the free cervical screening are Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center in NCR; Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Central Luzon; Batangas Regional Hospital in Southern Luzon; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Celentino Gallares Memorial Medical Center in Central VIsayas; Zamboanga City Medical Center in Western Mindanao; Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Northern Mindanao; Southern Philippines Medical Center and Davao Medical Center in Southern Mindanao; Maguindanao Provincial Hospital and Sulu Provincial Hospital in ARMM.
“Pumunta sa pinkamalapit na health center sa inyong lugar upang maiwasan ang cervical cancer. Babae, Mahalaga ka!,” Garin concluded.