Government approved new cancer vaccine

PORTUGAL IS including a vaccine against cervical cancer in the National Vaccination Programme for girls between 10 and 15 years-old. The official announcement was made by Prime-Minister José Sócrates on Tuesday, and is effective from January 2008.

Responding to a long term request from the health sector, the Portuguese government decided to include the vaccine against the Human Papilomavirus in the country’s vaccination programme in an effort to reduce a virus that kills 25,000 women in Europe every year.

The announcement was made during parliamentary discussions for next year’s budget and has already received applause from health professionals.

The president of the Gynaecological committee of the Portuguese Medical Board, which represents all doctors in Portugal, said that the new vaccine will reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer by two thirds over the next 20 years.

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur are the only two pharmaceutical companies selling the vaccine in Portugal at the moment.

Although the government’s decision was welcomed by the health sector, experts insist that women should continue to have regular inspections as a preventive measure to fight cancer. Portugal has 1000 new cases of cervical cancer every year and the vaccine will not solve the short term problem.

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