Sindh Minister for Health and Population Welfare, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho attended the inaugural ceremony of the IPVS Symposium, at ICCBS, Karachi University as the Chief Guest.
The esteemed panel also included Patron in Chief of the ICCBS, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Vice Chancellor of Karachi University, Dr. Khalid M. Iraqi, Consul General of Germany, Mr. Rudiger Lotz, Director Medical Virology Institute, Tubingen University, Dr. Thomas Iffner, and Director ICCBS, Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary among others.
The conference was informed that Pakistan is a hotspot for HPV infection with increasing risk of cervical cancer. As sexual education is taboo in the country, this creates even more of an obstacle in tackling this otherwise preventable cancer in women.
Doctors from across the world who have studied the Human Papillomavirus and its vaccine joined the conference online and said that as this cancer is caused by a single agent, it is one of the most preventable cancers and yet it is one of the most prevalent due to lack of vaccination and lack of awareness.
The IPVS Symposium would allow its members to share resources, innovations, data and research on how to best eliminate this cancer, across the world.
Dr. Atta ur Rehman also spoke about MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that is an ever expanding, free of cost resource that provides 1000s of hours of lectures that are at school and university level that have increased the access to learning.
Minister for Health and Population Welfare, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho said that she was pleased that this program includes three sessions of prominent women doctors, media personnels and women health activists.
She added that her Ministry is currently engaged in handling the epic challenges of the recent catastrophic floods and that they are shouldering the tremendous responsibility of not only providing them with the basic necessities of life (food, water, shelter) but also to protect them from life threatening diseases such as dengue, malaria, gastro, water borne infection, skin disorders and more.
Minister for Health further said that she is cognizant of the fact that HPV immunisation of adolescent girls can substantially reduce the risk of cervical cancer in women and that the Ministry was in the process of initiating a well structured immunisation initiative to eliminate this preventable cancer and reduce the mortalities that occur due to cervical cancer.
The Health Department has begun to screen in several maternity centres in the mega cities of Sindh and she said that she looks forward to the advice and technical support of the international partners in these endeavours.