The CervicalCheck scandal has played a role in increasing the uptake of the HPV vaccine, it has emerged.
President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Prof Mary Horgan, said 65% of girls offered the vaccine in September took it up, a 15% increase on last year.
“Amidst the sadness and blame and hurt that has been palpable in recent months, it is heartening to see the take-up of the HPV vaccine is now moving back towards previous high levels,” she said.
“Events at the HSE's CervicalCheck programme, together with patient advocacy has raised awareness of cervical cancer. This is now having an impact on the decisions that parents and young people are taking to get vaccinated.”
Prof Horgan, who was speaking at an RCPI conference in Dublin, urged the Government, healthcare professionals and health advocates to unite to support the eradication of cervical cancer.
She also called for an overarching strategy for women's health.
A cytopathologist and expert in HPV screening in Australia, Prof Marion Saville, said the inquiry into CervicalCheck showed that the screening programme “as a whole” was working well and achieving its aims.
There has been a 7% fall in the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and among women participating in screening high rates of cancers were detected at an early stage that allowed many women to have a successful outcome.
Lorraine Walsh, one of the 221 women caught up in the CervicalCheck crisis, and a member of the National Screening Committee established by the Department of Health said she hoped the women affected could move forward in a positive way.
"I would like to see the re-establishment of relationships between patients and their doctors," she said.