THE GOVERNMENT has abandoned a plan announced just three months ago to have all 12-year-old girls vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer, citing “very scarce” health resources.
Minister for Health Mary Harney said yesterday that the economic situation had “rapidly and seriously” deteriorated since the plan was announced in August.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination would have cost an estimated €9.7 million annually. Between 70 and 80 women with cervical cancer die in Ireland each year and some 200 new cases are diagnosed.
The decision was immediately criticised by the Opposition and by the Irish Cancer Society, which asked the Government to make a clear commitment to restore the vaccination scheme “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
In a statement, Ms Harney said: “Public resources, including those for health, are very scarce indeed and will remain so.
“I have decided that the best that can be achieved in these circumstances is to prioritise funding for the development of the cervical screening programme and treatment services at the eight designated cancer centres, which includes the challenge of funding very expensive cancer drugs.
“I will not therefore be proceeding with the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme,” she added.
Later Ms Harney told reporters that the Health Service Executive had not been able to say how much the procurement cost for the vaccine would be.
But the Minister said that the administration cost, set out by the HSE was “not inconsiderable”.
Irish Cancer Society chief executive John McCormack said the decision was “very disappointing”.
“If this is going to be the beginning of a pattern around hard-fought decisions being reversed, the Irish Cancer Society would be awfully concerned about it,” Mr McCormack added.
Oh all the short sighted things to do, personally I am very annoyed over this and have already emailed my T.D.s and signed two online petitions one of which is being run by today fm.
70 women a year die of cervical cancer, many more have to under go surgery, chemo and many many
smear tests, laser treatment and internal exams.