CAPE TOWN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- There are more than 5,000 of cervical cases per year in South Africa and around 3,000 deaths from this cancer, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
Cancer of the cervix is the commonest cancer diagnosed in women in South Africa and black women carry the heaviest burden of the disease, Zuma said at the official opening of Ngidini Primary School in Ngqeleni, Eastern Cape Province.
Estimates indicate that there are 16 million women over the age of 15 years who are at risk of cervical cancer, Zuma said.
He announced that from this year the government will introduce immunization against the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), which is the virus that causes the cancer of the cervix.
"The introduction of HPV vaccine is a significant public health milestone for South Africa," Zuma said. "It is expected to significantly contribute to the control of the cancer and reduce associated deaths within the next 2 to 3 decades."
The program will target girls between nine and 12 years of age, through the Integrated School Health Program.
"The Departments of Basic Education and Health will work closely together in this national program to protect our girls from this disease," Zuma said.
Vaccination teams from the Department of health will visit schools twice a year to ensure that each girl-child receives two doses of the HPV vaccine.
"We urge parents to cooperate with us and help us succeed in fighting cervical cancer," Zuma said.