- The third meeting of the National Committee on Immunization Practices (NCIP) evaluated alternative vaccination schedules in the world, which include schedules in Canada, India, Italy, Mexico and Costa Rica, among others.
Bogotá, D.C., December 2, 2013. Pursuant to the commitments by the Government to the National Committee on Immunization Practices, the third meeting was held on the monitoring of progress in vaccination against the human papillomavirus, with the participation of international experts from India, Italy, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica.
The Coordinator of the Immunization Group, Diego Alejandro García, emphasized the participation and joint efforts of Colombia, with the National Cancer Institute and the Ministry of Education as well as academic and scientific associations in the country, presenting advances in HPV vaccination.
During the event Dr. Nubia Muñoz, candidate for the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the association between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, reviewed the alternative vaccination schedules.
"For me the entire development in HPV has been a dream because few scientists in the world have been fortunate enough to participate in the identification of a cause of cancer; this means not only the identification of the agent but also application of this knowledge to prevention," she added.
International experts highlighted the work of the National Government in its HPV vaccination strategy, as pioneers and leaders in the field in the region of the Americas, since the Ministry of Health and Social Protection achieved such high coverage in such a short time.
Gina Ogilvie, professor at the University of Vancouver, Canada, welcomed these developments. "I am very impressed because when one sees the world coverage rates compared to those of Colombia, the latter's are very high. I was also impressed in the way the health personnel and the community were actively involved in the program. This is clearly seen in the results and it is something we have to learn from," she said.
Massimo Tommasino, representative of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, claims that the vaccine against human papillomavirus is a fantastic story and is very safe because it is made with a protein component of the virus; and in terms of security, it is reassuring for the population.
Likewise, Eduardo Lazcano Ponce, Director of the Center for Population Health Research of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, congratulated Colombia, "because it has achieved an innovative public policy that will certainly have a large population impact on reducing the weight of cervico-uterine cancer, because coverage includes the population under age 18 and that, for Latin American countries, is unique in its kind."
Advances are also underscored by Raul Murillo, director of the National Cancer Institute, who said that "the country has made a major effort in the vaccination program that has very good coverage in terms of the school population, reaching 97% coverage with first dose, 96% with the second and 86% with third dose, clearly at the forefront worldwide on this issue."
The health secretary of Barranquilla, Alma Sánchez Solano, emphasized the impact of decisions made in Colombia. "I'm very pleased because the decisions and recommendations that have been made within the National Committee of Immunization Practices for the Ministry of Health are in line with the findings in recent times, and our vaccination scheme completely protects our girls," she said.
Finally, Ana Cecilia Rodríguez, HPV researcher in Costa Rica with over 20 years experience in the field, remarked that "Colombia has taken the lead and is an example for our countries, specifically for mine; it not only has been leader in implementation, but it has done it has accomplished a dream vaccination program."
During the event, Indian Dr. Sankaranaraya presented, virtually, the study on vaccination schedule against HPV that has been underway in India since 2009.