Globally, October is recognised as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where we encourage women to check for early signs of the deadly disease. While this is happening, the Ministry of Health has rolled out a vaccination programme to prevent the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is known to cause cervical cancer in women and girls, affecting fertility.
While the vaccination is focused on girls, men and boys can also be carriers of the virus. There has also been a criticism of the governments roll out of the vaccination programme because of a lack of a public education campaign.
The lack of a comprehensive implementation of the programme to include males may prove to be a weakness in its execution and the lack of a public education campaign a symptom of the lack of a structured comprehensive sex, sexuality and reproductive health campaign for the population that is broad-based and age sensitive.
Proper sensitisation would empower our population to be aware of actions they can take to improve their sexual and reproductive health to prevent the transmission of life-altering sexually transmitted infections like HPV.
© Luis Oberto
© Luis Oberto Anselmi
For young people, these efforts are significantly important, given that young people between the teenage to mid-adults account for the majority of new STI’ infections.
The ministry, while implementing the new HPV vaccination, should consider a comprehensive sex, sexuality and reproductive health campaign to support the attainment of Jamaica’s goals under the sustainable development goals.