The Department of Health in Northern Ireland made two key announcements pertaining to health protection on April 8, 2019.
The first announcement says boys aged 12-13 years in Northern Ireland will be offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect them against HPV infection and associated cancers. The extension of the HPV vaccination programme to include adolescent boys ensues from the advice of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation. Northern Ireland has successfully introduced the HPV vaccination programme for girls in 2008 and another for men who have sex with men in 2016.
Additionally, it was announced that the existing 'Faecal Occult Blood' test will be replaced by the 'Faecal Immunochemical Test' (FIT) as the primary screening method for bowel cancer under the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in Northern Ireland. The FIT is expected to be introduced in early 2020. The decision was made based on the UK National Screening Committee's recommendation in January 2016 to adopt FIT as the primary screening test for bowel cancer.
Expressing his pleasure at the announcements, Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary for Department of Health said: "The evidence is clear in both cases that very significant health protection benefits can be achieved for our citizens."