Photo Credit American Cancer Society

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By Chehak Mishra

New Delhi, June 9: Over a million people die each year of cancer globally, and India accounts of more than one-tenth of the total death toll due to the emperor of all diseases. But a study in the US and soon to be rolled-out vaccination in India have ignited the hope that the victory against cancer may be a just a few decades away.

The New York Times has reported that 18 patients who took a wonder drug to treat their cancer cases during a trial found to their surprise that the disease simply vanished.

Dr Luis A Diaz was quoted by the NYT saying that this happened for the first time in the treatment of cancer.

It’s noteworthy to mention that the world over extensive research is underway to find cure for cancer, the ravaging disease which sweeps through the body vitals in quick time to be one of the biggest killers in the world.

India, which accounts for over 13 lakh deaths each year due to cancer while there remains limited treatment facilities, largely beyond the capacity of the poor and the low income group of the people, has also been investing in finding the vaccines and drugs to prevent and cure cancer among the people.

In a meeting to be held on 29th June, a decision would be taken regarding the introduction of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the country’s immunisation programme by National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). The drive would be aimed at vaccinating girls in the 9-14 years age group against cervical cancer.

It is believed that NTAGI had asked to conduct feasibility study on the vaccine back in 2015. The vaccine is believed to prevent most cases of cervical cancer if it is given before girls or women are exposed to the virus, the vaccine would be India’s first indigenous HPV Vaccine.

The vaccine would be launched by the Pune based drug maker, Serum Institute of India (SII), even though two globally licensed vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) are already available in India.

“Before the roll-out of this vaccine, the Centre will launch a massive sensitisation program to educate parents and school authorities,” NTAGI chief Dr N K Arora had been quoted by the media in various reports.

“As of now, the HPV vaccine is only available in the private sector at 33,500 to 4,000 per dose. However, two doses are required to complete the vaccination course. Many people cannot afford to get this vaccine for their teenage daughters because it is so expensive,” he added.

Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common reason of cancer among women in India. Cervical cancer is mostly diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44. It rarely develops in women younger than 20.

In India, 160 million women are at the greatest risk of developing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer initiatives by government have been active for several years, but they are yet to make an impact. Therefore, India has to act faster and generate awareness to prevent and detect early the cases of cervical cancer.

With the HPV vaccine being introduced, a new dawn of hope has appeared for women in India.

While the US and Europe remain the research and development capitals in the discovery of the new drugs, India with its proven capacity to manufacture low cost drugs and vaccines could play crucial role in mitigating the cancer deaths globally.

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