(TBILISI) – On Thursday, Georgia’s Health Minister announced the launch of a large-scale vaccination drive starting from December 1 that will help prevent the spread of the Papilloma virus, one of the main causes of uterine cancer, which claims the lives of about 200 women in Georgia on an annual basis.
Georgia’s Health Ministry Announces Uterine Cancer Prevention Program
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 17
The target group of the vaccination will be girls between the ages of 9 and 14, with the goal of slashing the number of new uterine cancer cases in the coming years.
Georgia’s National Disease Control Center reported in its latest data released this year that 10,000 new cases of cancer are reported in Georgia every year.
The Center’s chair, Amiran Gamkrelidze, said the high figure could be traced to “a new disease registration system and better accessibility to health facilities, instead of an increase in the number of cancer cases.”
“We provided a renewed system of the cancer registration in 2015 and the Georgian Dream government made health services more available for the public through universal health insurance financed from the state budget. Consequently, now people visit doctors more frequently for checks than in previous years,” Gamkrelidze said.
Official figures, however, contradict Gamkrelidze’s claims. Date from the same agency that the Gamkrelidze now heads reported a spike in the number of cancer cases prior to the introduction of the new registration system.
Between 2002 and 2015, hospital visits by cancer patients increased by 2.4 times, while the number of cancer cases increased in the same period by 6.6 times, according to data provided by the National Disease Control Center.
Doctors and environmentalists claim that the growing number of severe illnesses in the general population is caused by the country’s high rate of air pollution and contaminated food.
According to a 2016 World Health Organization analysis, air pollution in the Georgian capital Tbilisi is three times higher than the norm.
The latest figures by Georgia’s National Statistics Office reveal that the top three illnesses in country are infectious diseases, various forms of cancer and cardio-vascular complications.