The online campaign launched by Nguvu Change Leader Prakshi Saha draws the support of political leaders across party lines
Here are a few sobering facts on Universal Health Coverage Day (December 12). In India, cervical cancer ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women aged between 15 to 44 years, according to the 2023 statistics from the ICO/IARC Information Centre on human papillomavirus (HPV) and Cancer. Current estimates indicate that every year, 123,907 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 77,348 die from the disease.
In October 2023, the Kerala Government announced they would initiate steps to provide vaccines for cervical cancer. However, a nationwide focus on cervical cancer vaccinations is yet to become a reality. Activists and stakeholders urge the Union Government to incorporate the vaccination into the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), one of the largest public health initiatives for women and children nationwide.
Nguvu Change Leader and co-founder of Her Adhikar Foundation, Prakshi Saha, is championing this cause through her powerful online campaign #BeatCervicalCancer, emphasizing that the vaccination drive will mitigate risks associated with late diagnoses and financial barriers.
With her online petition, jointly filed by Her Adhikar Foundation and Dr. Tanaya, also known as Dr. Cuterus—a medical doctor and bestselling author— Prakshi feels Universal Health Coverage Day (December 12) serves as a perfect reminder to amplify this cause further.
The online petition, already signed by nearly 30,000 people, has also garnered encouraging support from several Members of Parliament. This includes Dr. Amar Patnaik, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, Sanjeev Arora, Rajya Sabha MP from Ludhiana, Supriya Sule, Lok Sabha MP from Baramati, and Dr T Sumathy, Lok Sabha MP from Chennai South.
Prakshi’s petition is addressed to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mansukh Mandaviya.
“The HPV vaccine is highly effective, but due to lack of awareness, access, and affordability, it is not available to most women in the country. Moreover, there is significant shame and stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health, often excluding it from public health conversations. By incorporating the HPV vaccine into the Universal Immunization Program, we can ensure accessibility and availability for everyone,” says Prakshi.