Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty will today launch the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign, which will see Grade 4 girl learners getting the first dose of the vaccine.
The campaign is a significant public health milestone and is expected to reduce cervical cancer and its associated mortality within the next two to three decades.
From this month, all Grade 4 girls, who are nine years and older, will be given an opportunity to get the HPV vaccination at schools.
About 550 000 learners throughout the country will in March/April get their first dose of the vaccine, and the second dose in September/October. The vaccine prevents infection from HPV strains, which cause most of cervical cancer cases. It is most effective in young girls who have not yet come into contact with HPV.
The introduction of the vaccine is part of the Integrated School Health Programme.
Motsoaledi and Surty will this morning give the first dose of the vaccine to learners at Gonyane Primary School in Bloemfontein.
HPV vaccination teams will during the month visit schools to vaccinate girls that are eligible for the vaccination.
Cancer of the cervix is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in South Africa. Estimates indicate that there are 16 million women over the age of 15 years who are at risk of cervical cancer.
There are more than 5 000 cases per year in South Africa and around 3 000 deaths from this cancer. Black women carry the heaviest burden of the disease.