SINGAPORE – Up to one million cervical cancer screening vouchers will be distributed over 12 months from July, in a campaign led by The Royal Commonwealth Society of Singapore.
The I AM Campaign was launched on Tuesday (May 11) at the inaugural meeting of the Singapore Alliance for Active Action Against Human Papillomavirus (A4HPV).
Under the campaign, young Singaporeans will make up to a million bags, which will contain a human papillomavirus (HPV) screening voucher and an information kit about HPV and cervical cancer. The screening voucher allows for one visit at selected GP clinics.
For every handmade bag bought for $30, an additional bag will go to vulnerable communities in Rwanda in Africa to support their fight against cervical cancer.
British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen, who opened the event, said: “We can all play a part to raise awareness of HPV and cervical cancer, so everyone can make informed choices on screening and vaccination.”
Cervical cancer is the second-most common cause of deaths by cancer in women aged 15 to 44 in Singapore.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, which is as common as the flu virus and can infect both men and women. HPV is mostly introduced to the cervix through sexual activity.
But regular screening allows cervical pre-cancer due to HPV infection to be detected early for treatment.
Women aged 25 to 29 are recommended to do a Pap smear test every three years, and for those 30 and above, a HPV test every five years.
HPV infection and cervical cancer can also be prevented with vaccination.
Since April 2019, all Secondary 1 girls in national schools have been offered a free vaccination that protects them against common HPV strains. The current recommended age range for vaccination against HPV in Singapore is nine to 26.
Dr Christopher Chong, medical technical adviser to the A4HPV, said: “Awareness is key to early prevention and it is important for everyone to protect themselves through HPV vaccination for both men and women.”
Ms Summer Ng, 29, a cervical cancer survivor, said: “I really hope to spread the awareness about how cervical cancer can be diagnosed as young as 24.
“Don’t take your health for granted. You need to be responsible for yourself, and that is to take the first step to take the vaccine,” she added.