The US will pay for a mass vaccination campaign to prevent cervical cancer in the Micronesia region of the Pacific starting next month, a US official said.
More than 30,000 girls aged between 10 and 18 will be vaccinated in the campaign which will cost nine million dollars.
The programme will be carried out in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regional epidemiologist Jean-Paul Chaine said Wednesday.
In the Marshall Islands, cervical cancer was the second most prevalent cancer in 2007 and is estimated to affect women at a rate six times that in the United States, Chaine said.
The HPV vaccine prevents the types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is given in three shots over six-months and costs 300 dollars per patient for each course.
The HPV vaccine program was supposed to be launched in early 2008, but was delayed by funding snags, Chaine said.
The three north Pacific nations are located between Hawaii and the Philippines and were formerly a United Nations Trust Territory administered by the US.
They are now independent countries that maintain close relations with Washington through "compacts of free association", which make them eligible for many US-funded health and education programs.
Some of the four island states in the Federated States of Micronesia will launch a vaccine drive as early as next month, Chaine said.