Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Romania In Vaccine Campaign Dilemma

BalkanInsight.com

Bucharest | 19 January 2009 |

Romanian authorities will re-negotiate the terms of a contract for a cervical cancer vaccination campaign targeting pre-teen girls, as by now it has very poor results, the country's Health Minister Ion Bazac said on Sunday.

According to official data, six women die every day because of cervical cancer in Romania and more than 3,000 are diagnosed every year with the disease. In the last 20 years Romania has been ranking first in Europe for cervical cancer mortality, which is 6.3 times higher than the European Union average.

Bucharest launched the campaign in late November, with some 100,000 girls aged 11 scheduled to receive the free vaccine in a three-shot course over six months. The campaign was not compulsory and was supposed to cost around €23 million.

"By now, only 2,615 girls were vaccinated", Bazac told reporters. "This is a serious issue and we
must tackle it in a very serious way and that's why we want to better inform the population and to train the staff directly involved in this campaign."

But there is still a huge opposition to the campaign.

"It is nonsense to use a vaccine for schoolgirls, while the disease appears only in sexually-active women. Besides the vaccine is still controversial worldwide as it has side-effects," said Marlene Farcas,
president of Romanian Anti-Cancer organisation.

(Reporting by Marian Chiriac)

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