MSD has been a global health care leader working to help the world be well with a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc. Through their prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. Also their commitment is to increase access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Last August 30, 2016, MSD held an event to commemorate adolescent immunization month as well as mark 10 years of HPV prevention in the Philippines. In his opening remarks, Dr. Cesar Recto II, Medical Director of MSD in the Philippines pointed out that they have tirelessly worked with healthcare providers, the Department of Health, medical societies, cancer support groups, as well as media, and other civic organizations to increase awareness about HPV.
In the Philippines, about 2,800 women die of cervical cancer each year. That translates to roughly 7 women dying every day from cervical cancer. Although awareness on HPV as a cause of cervical cancer has grown over the last decade, there is still a lack of understanding of other HPV-related diseases and how these can affect adolescent Filipinos. It is critical to continue to spread education in the country on the perils of HPV and the importance of vaccination.
The event featured presentations from experts: Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave, a practicing Gynecologic Oncologist at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UP PGH, former chief of the Gynecologic Oncology Unit of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center and Asian Cancer Institute, and chair of Asian Gynecology and Oncology Group (AGOG) and Dr. May Montellano, President of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination and a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Who
explained key facts about HPV including prevalence in the country, complications, and prevention.
Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave discussed the HPV-related cancers and genital warts
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a virus that can affect both females and males. It is the most common viral infection of the human reproductive tract. There are more than 100 types of HPV and approximately 40 types can affect the genital area, 15 to 20 of those are high-risk types that can cause cancers, while the other 10 to 15 other types are responsible for benign HPV-related diseases including genital warts. “Besides various cancers, HPV can also cause genital warts. Studies show that if a person has had genital warts, they will have an increased risk for HPV-related cancers as they grow older,” explained Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave.
Dr. Llave further clarified that while HPV is widely known to cause cervical cancer among females, there are certain types of HPV that can cause head, neck, anal, and penile cancers among males as well. Dr. Llave stressed that it is important for parents to consult their doctors on how to best protect their adolescent children, both females and males, against HPV diseases before they are even exposed to them.
Dr. May Montellano discussed the Protecting against HPV-related diseases
The primary prevention for HPV is HPV vaccination. Bivalent and quadrivalent HPV vaccines are available in the Philippines. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine helps provide protection against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. It has undergone efficacy and safety trials similar to those given to other routine adolescent vaccinations. It can be administered to children as young as 9 years old.
HPV vaccination works best in children from the age of 9 because pre-teens have a higher immune response to the vaccine versus older individuals. Despite the possibility that they won’t be exposed to HPV at such a young age, it is already recommended that HPV vaccination be administered as the risk of exposure increases rapidly.
“We don’t wait until exposure occurs to give any other routinely recommended vaccine,” explained Dr. May Montellano. “We want children to be protected long before they are even at risk of exposure to HPV. HPV often has no visible signs or symptoms, so as a parent, you will not know if your child is exposed to it. There’s no way to predict who will or who won’t clear the virus. It is important that you understand how HPV-related diseases can affect your daughters and sons.”
Dr. Beaver Tamesis, Managing Director of MSD in the Philippines, stressed that with the likely underestimated prevalence of HPV in the Philippines, it is imperative that more Filipinos are informed of the benefits that vaccination can offer when it comes to protecting against HPV- related illnesses and cancers.
For more information, visit www.msd.com.