Levent Shih-Jen Liu, the Associate Investigator of National Health Research Institute in Taiwan, moderated the Round Table Discussion, covering the topic of cervical cancer vaccines. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine, a vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer among women, has been introduced in many countries around the world, including those in Asia. Through valuable inputs from each delegate, a clear picture of the current situations of HPV Vaccines in Asia was established.
Today, Malaysian government has made it compulsory for girls between 11-13 years old to get HPV-vaccinated, resulting in over 90% coverage of HPV Vaccines in the country. Due to this regulation, the HPV Vaccine industry proliferates in the country and there are currently a lot of vaccine candidate products under development. The same trend is not observed in its neighboring country, Singapore. Though Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has recommended the uptake of HPV Vaccines, HPV vaccination has not been made compulsory. Of course, Singaporeans could expect a higher uptake of HPV vaccine in the next few years because public awareness has been raised through campaigns and posters in private clinics and hospitals.
In contrast, Japan has seen a decrease in the uptake of HPV Vaccine over these few years. While HPV Vaccination was compulsory in Japan three years ago, over 1000 Japanese girls developed unexpected side effects after vaccination. As a result, Japanese government and Patient Groups decided to halt the HPV Vaccination program for now until the reasos behind those side effects are discovered.
Another major topic brought up was some possible reasons of the low uptake of HPV Vaccines in Asian countries. The high cost of vaccines was identified as one of the hurdles. Since no subsidy is given for this vaccination in Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan, HPV vaccines remain unaffordable for low-income people. The second hurdle mentioned was the mutiple dosages required for each vaccination. If HPV vaccine manufacturers could reduce the number of dosages required, patient compliance could be improved and costs of vaccines could be lowered, resulting in a higher uptake of HPV Vaccine in Asian countries. An improved technology, such as needle-free injection, could eliminate the pain and anxiety over HPV vaccination, and again increase the uptake of HPV Vaccines among Asian girls.