Boroko Rotary Club is saving lives through the Cervical Cancer (HPV) Vaccination Programme
Boroko Rotary Club has vaccinated 15,000 girls against cervical cancer in the past 6 weeks. Cervical cancer is a painful, silent killer, taking the lives of 1,500 women each year in PNG. Rotarian, Dr Fa Pulotu, the HPV Vaccination Committee Chairperson, said it is still is the second biggest killer of women in the country.
The first school to receive vaccinations was Pari Primary School on Monday 1st May. It was implemented by a well-trained group of NCD Health workers headed by Dr Lutty Amos. The first round of vaccinations was completed only last week. The same girls will need a second dose in November.
The NDoH-approved project has been four years in the making and required a large amount of funding from Boroko Rotary Club and its sister clubs overseas.
Through Rotary International’s support and Boroko’s own funding a total of K986,000 has been raised, which is enough to vaccinate 28,000 girls in Port Moresby’s three electorates. Girls are between the ages of 9 to 14, in Grades 3-8, in both public and private primary schools.
Rotary’s President Elect and Secretary to the club’s HPV Vaccination Committee, Nick Raicevic, said the vaccination initiative, although funded completely by Rotary, was a successful collaboration of government agencies, doctors, nurses and individuals. According to Mr Raicevic, historically vaccinations have saved millions of lives and are now an accepted part of preventative medicine
“Rotary was delighted by the support the Prime Minister’s wife, Lynda Babao-O’Neill, showed for the project. She spoke with the girls, encouraged them to be brave and sat with them as they received their first vaccination. Her kindness to the kids was fabulous and she strongly encouraged parents to make sure their daughters are immunized to prevent health problems in the future,” Mr Raicevic said.
The girls receiving the vaccinations also received some food and drink afterwards so that the Health Care professionals could check there was no pain or swelling after the vaccination, which can happen in rare cases. The girls will need a second vaccination in November, so it was important to make them comfortable for their initial injection.
These vaccinations are the only medicines that can actually prevent cervical cancer in women. The HPV vaccination has been administered to more than 10 Million women worldwide over the last 10 years without any significant side effects.
According to Boroko Rotary Club President, Russell Jackson, “This has been a proud achievement for the Boroko Rotary Club as we have struggled to raise the money through the last four years of Melbourne Cup events. Now the project is finally happening. This is great.
“We have had some resistance from the minority on-line trollers who falsely claim vaccinations cause serious side effects. This is simply not true. Ask any health professional and he or she will say your daughter’s health and safety is much better from having this vaccine.”
Fellow Rotarians, Lionel Melville and Vaghi Gairowagga, along with Nick Raicevic, were present to assist the NCD medical team. Rotary is now aiming to have 28,000 young girls vaccinated during 2017.
Any of the girls that missed out on the first vaccination should not worry. There will be a short follow up in a few weeks for girls who were not present or who had not brought in their signed consent forms.
“We hope and pray that no schoolgirls in Port Moresby miss out on this great opportunity, since the vaccine is a life saver. And thanks to Boroko Rotary, parents and guardians do not have to pay the normally very high fee to have these vaccinations,” Mr Raicevic said.
Technical assistance for the vaccinations was provided by NDoH and the actual implementation was carried out by NCD Health Services, lead by Dr Lutty Amos. Rotary is also grateful to the PNG Cancer Foundation for all the printing of Brochures, Posters and Consent forms and training materials. Paradise Foods provided cordial and biscuits for the girls.
It is anticipated that Boroko Rotary will fund the vaccination of the girls in POM going from Grade 2 to Grade 3 next year, and also trial a rural Project in another province in 2018.
To our knowledge, not one girl has suffered any serious side effects. But anyone concerned about this or other issues are urged to contact Nick Raicevic on 73965023.
This would not be the first time Rotary has saved or improved lives. The near eradication of Polio, a debilitating disease, was driven by Rotary International and Rotary clubs all over the world through its global vaccination programme.
Rotary is also close to beginning trials of a new malaria vaccination. If successful, this will be of huge benefit to the population in Papua New Guinea, where one in six people are infected and, on average, 600 die each year from malaria.
For further information or interview opportunities, contact Nick Raicevic on 73965023.