Turkish Health Ministry faces second lawsuit over free HPV vaccine

A second lawsuit has been filed against the Turkish Health Ministry for the HPV vaccine to be included in the national vaccination program and therefore be offered for free.

Menekşe Tokyay / DUVAR

A lawyer of the Istanbul Bar Association on March 30 filed a second lawsuit against the Health Ministry for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to be considered a “mandatory vaccine” and therefore be offered for free.

The application was made by Kardelen Yarlı, a member of the bar's Children and Women Rights Center, at the Ankara 15th Administrative Court.

The first lawsuit against the ministry was filed by a lawyer from the Aegean province of İzmir last year in November -- on behalf of the Lawyer Rights Group İzmir. 

Lawyer Kardelen Yarlı commented on the newly launched lawsuit, saying that if the court rejects their application, they will take the case to the Turkish Constitutional Court and then the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Yarlı also commented on a recent Ankara court ruling that said the Turkish Social Security Institution (SGK) should reimburse a woman for the HPV vaccine.

“But the lawsuits filed against the SGK concern reimbursements made personally to individuals with regards to the vaccine fee. Individuals cannot demand there [from the SGK] that the HPV vaccine is included in the national vaccination program,” Yarlı told Gazete Duvar.

The HPV vaccine targets the HPV types that most commonly cause cervical cancer.

The vaccination is known to work extremely well. It has the potential to prevent more than 90 percent of HPV-attributable cancers, according to research.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women with an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018 representing 7.5 percent of all female cancer deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Of the estimated more than 311,000 deaths from cervical cancer every year, more than 85 percent of these occur in low and middle-income countries.

(English version by Didem Atakan)