“Health is wealth.”
There are no truer words, especially when you have to go to the hospital’s cashier paying the latest billing statement and worrying where to source the next round you know is definitely coming. So if you could help prevent cancer from happening, wouldn’t you?
Research has shown that one type, cervical cancer, is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 150 related viruses, some of which can lead to cancer and genital warts. HPV is usually transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. It is so common, many infected people do not know they have it because they don’t show any signs or symptoms. These can develop years after contact. Sometimes they go away on their own but sometimes they stay and do horrible things to the body like cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus and in some cases, throat and tonsils.
Undergoing cancer treatment, especially in the Philippines, is a painful and expensive process. Even if PhilHealth and the health maintenance organization (HMO) could cover some of the cost, it will now be enough. Depending on the case, diagnostic tests along can cost up to P100,000 and more. Some of these may not be covered by PhilHealth, or only a small percentage, as this writer discovered the hard way. The treatment itself is another cost that needs to be taken cared of, as your PhilHealth coverage may not be enough to pay the bills. For example, PhilHealth will only cover up to PhP 3,000 per session of the patient’s radiation treatment. If it goes over this limit, the patient will have to fork over the rest.
Aside from financial costs, the emotional and physical toll on the cancer patient, his or her caregivers and family members can be overwhelming, whether or not the case has hope or is terminal.
No one should ever have to undergo these challenges yet cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinas. Two thirds of those diagnosed will die within five years. The DOH estimates that it costs PhP 120,000 to PhP 500,000 to treat someone with cervical cancer. If this could be prevented, would you go for it?
The Department of Health recently launched their School-based HPV Immunization program at Mandaluyong City in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and are gearing up to deploy the program to 47 more provinces. DOH recently concluded their successful community-based HPV vaccination drive in the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. Starting the program at Addition Hills Integrated School with about 180 pupils, DOH and DepEd aims to immunize 700,000 pupils.
The DOH are immunizing girls aged 9 to 14, primarily because this is the most ideal period to be protected against HPV. Before they do this though, they educate parents and guardians with basic information on HPV, its related diseases and the vaccine their children will be taking.
It’s not too late for their mothers and female guardians to protect themselves from reproductive issues. Their local health units also offer additional available services like pap smear and visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) to maintain reproductive health and detect health issues, if any, as early as possible. Together with the government agencies, everyone could say, “Sa aking paglaki, walang HPV.”