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Mary Harney cops out on Cervical Cancer vaccine roll out

August 5th, 2008 · 14 Comments · Equality, Irish Politics

I haven’t read such a half hearted announcement for a campaign to protect women’s health in ages, I was waiting to see if Mary Harney would bite the bullet – but it seems she put on her vest and is playing russian roulette instead.

Minister Harney Approves Introduction Of Cervical Cancer Vaccination Programme

5 August 2008

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., announced today(Tuesday 5th August, 2008) that she has asked the HSE to prepare and submit a plan for the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme for 12 year old girls to commence in September 2009.

All good so far – international best practice and all that – 73 women in Ireland die of the disease each year and 965 other women are diagnosed and treated for it.

The Minister has considered all the advice made available to her in relation to the potential public health benefits of HPV vaccination in the prevention of cervical cancer and the wider policy implications of its possible introduction into the National Immunisation Programme.

The Minister said“I accept the expert advice that the introduction of a universal, high uptake, vaccination programme for young girls, in conjunction with population based cervical screening, could significantly reduce overall cervical cancer rates. I intend to seek Government approval for the programme and for the required funding in the autumn based on the implementation of a plan that can be shown to be cost-effective, in terms of delivery costs and uptake rates.?

Ah hold on there now – we have the words ‘cost effective’ … I foresee trouble..

The Minister said : “It is clear the main priority now is to move to the introduction of the vaccination programme for 12 year old girls to commence in Sept 2009 . Having regard for the need to prioritise in relation to budget and competing demands of other service programmes (e.g. rollout and age extension of breast screening , co-lo rectal screening) it has been decided not to put in place a “catch-up “ programme for 13-15 year olds.?

And there we go – only 12 year olds are going to get it – and it won’t be back dated to more recent 12 year olds. Minister Harney has therefore opened the door to the private sector to come in and provide the vaccine at hundreds of euro a go to all those over 12 – typical Harney health politics.

The Minister has asked the HSE to begin planning for the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme for 12 year old girls to commence in September 2009, assuming an appropriate uptake rate could be achieved. The Minister notes that uptake is a vital element in the expert advice supporting the introduction of the vaccine. Consequently, she has asked the HSE to examine and ascertain the likely uptake rates , as well as the cost of purchasing the vaccine based on the best competitive arrangements available in the market and the most efficient method of delivering the vaccine.

How not to publicly back a campaign – ‘assuming an appropriate uptake rate could be achieved‘. The Minister has effectively opened the door to a public campaign against the vaccine with her words there – if ALIVE and their ilk can get enough misinformation going about the vaccine nobody will want it and therefore it won’t be cost effective and women’s lives will continue to be at risk. EPIC FAIL!

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