Project Aastha: A vaccination drive against HPV for a future free of cervical cancer

Introduction: Cervical Cancer remains one of the most common cancers and cause of cancer related deaths in women across the globe. In the next decade annual no. of new cases is expected to increase from 570000 to700000. More than 85% are young poor undereducated women from low and middle income countries. During the same time annual no. of deaths will increase from 311000 to 400000 .The huge burden of cervical cancer related mortality is due to decades of neglect by Global health community. However with an ambitious and inclusive strategy we can accelerate elimination of cervical cancer. The script can be rewritten with Rotary and public Health collaboration as we did for polio and repeat the Rotary success story of world free from cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is one cancer in the world which can actually be eliminated and it is time now. A global movement to eliminate cervical cancer driven by “Call to Action” campaign of WHO has gained momentum with launch of Project Aastha : A vaccination drive against HPV for a future free of cervical cancer. It is pertinent to mention here that the cervical cancer in 2nd major cause of death amongst women &is 100% preventable with HPV vaccine. While we waited for covid vaccine to shield us from the pandemic which was still in trial stage having queries about duration and efficacy and here we are, still pondering over use of vaccine that is 100% efficacious with lifelong effectiveness.

Methodology : Target group Where in girls 9-15 years from Govt. School coming from EWS families are provided HPV Vaccine free of cost, their mothers are screened & health education seminars are organized to spread awareness about prevention and management simultaneously. To seize the opportunity of reaching out to girls and leave behind a legacy of future free of cervical cancer, Govt Senior secondary schools in Rural Panchkula were identified for seminar on MHH and engage and empower girls and their mother’s for their own health.

Budget /Funding: The first 100 girls from GSS Rattewali received their first dose in February and second in March. The estimated budget was Rs 400,000. We organized fund raisers such as crowd funding ,Womania a shopping street and collaborative partnership with NGO such as Sahayata Cancer Society Chandigarh, Innerwheel Panchkula ,CSR from Tata and other philanthropic organizations who contribute for cause of Cervical cancer.

Impact : To broaden our impact & collective resolve to end needless suffering of women from cervical cancer, Project Aastha aims to vaccinate 1000 girls every year. The annual estimated budget is Rs. 40 lacs /year.

 The Global Grant with Dist. 7540 came through for 90000$ and our aim is to vaccinate 1000 girls  in 20-21 and continue to stretch our efforts for harnessing and fuelling activities to implement this change every year.

Through our Public image efforts our voice is reaching another 100,000 girls from schools and colleges with social media, YouTube, print and Radio media for those who can afford vaccination and strengthen our campaign.

Paul P Haris once Said- Rotary Changes us and the people we serve. I believe we can change the world one life at a time.

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