KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has allocated RM2 million this year to launch HPV tests that screen for cervical cancer.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in a written parliamentary reply today that HPV tests will be conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kedah and Kelantan starting this month in the first phase.
“MOH is very committed in its effort to eradicate cervical cancer.
“Therefore, we have applied for funding to run this service in phases until it is the main cervical cancer screening policy at the national level,” said Dzulkefly.
The HPV test is more sensitive than a pap smear. The former checks for HPV — a group of over 150 related viruses where some types cause cancer, including cervical cancer — whereas a pap test looks for abnormal cells or cell changes in the cervix.
Government clinics and hospitals usually provide pap smears, rather than HPV tests that reportedly cost three times more.
Nurul Izzah had asked Dzulkefly if the Health Ministry would commit funds to eradicate cervical cancer in Malaysia through HPV tests like the ROSE programme.
The ROSE system, which is spearheaded by Universiti Malaya consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Woo Yin Ling and Australian non-profit VCS Foundation, aims to track all women in Malaysia and to remind them to take a HPV cervical screening test upon hitting 35.
The HPV test under the ROSE system is self-administered and produces results in three days.
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women in Malaysia. Dzulkefly said Malaysia’s cervical cancer incidence rose to 10.5 per 100,000, according to the 2018 Globocan report, from 6.5 per 100,000 in 2011.
Dr Woo previously told CodeBlue only 12.9 percent of women in Malaysia took a pap smear once in their life, usually after giving birth, while the World Health Organisation’s target is 70 percent HPV screening coverage for women aged 35 to 45.