Aids Weekly Plus
The Bahamas government plans to add the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to its public healthcare system. Health officials stated that introduction of HPV vaccine into the healthcare system would be a big step in the move toward universal healthcare. At present, the vaccine, which protects women from the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer, is only available in the private healthcare system, making it inaccessible to Bahamian females who cannot afford private healthcare.
Health Minister Dr. Perry M. Gomez explained that the opportunity for introducing the HPV vaccine resulted from his attendance at an international conference also attended by representatives from the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and leading healthcare personnel. At the conference, Gomez learned that Merck had successfully immunized females ages 9–27 in a South African country against HPV. Meanwhile, the Bahamas was struggling with the problem of immunizing its people. At the conference, Merck offered a substantial discount to countries that wanted to immunize children, to which the Bahaman health officials responded.
Health officials also would upgrade the country’s vaccine storage facility in preparation for storing and dispensing the vaccine. Gomez stated that it was their intention to introduce HPV vaccine for the entire at-risk population, to avoid continuing the discrimination already in effect and to provide equity in health and quality healthcare, promote wellness, and address the social determinants of health as declared in the National Health Services Strategic Plan 2010–2020.