A cancer charity founded by a former Falkirk councillor is set to welcome a breakthrough in the fight against a deadly disease.
Throat cancer survivor Jamie Rae (53) has “broadly” welcomed news that after lengthy campaigning by his charity Throat Cancer Foundation - and the broader HPV Action group, of which it’s a founder member - the way has been cleared for the vaccination of adolescent males.
Mr Rae’s charity reckons around 400,000 boys across the UK are at risk to the HPV virus every year, threatening them with throat cancer or other forms of cancer in later life.
Girls are protected against cervical cancer, but universal “gender neutral” vaccination has not been an option until now.
However after lengthy campaigning for change the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has decided that a universal vaccination programme protecting boys against human papillomavirus (HPV) is cost effective.
This decision means the Government can extend NHS funding which has supported HPV vaccination in adolescent girls since 2008.
The Scottish Government says it aims to get its own scheme up and running as soon as possible.
Mr Rae, a former SNP councillor, saw his life crumble after a jail term for mortgage fraud - he says he thought his business approach was within the rules, but the court judged him guilty - and upon gaining his release vowed to rebuild his life.
His business acumen led to him founding what was to become a hugely successful ink cartridge recycling firm, Redeem, then in 2010 he sold the business (which now operates across eight countries) to concentrate on other ventures.
He was then diagnosed with throat cancer, and - having survived - decided to put his own experience to good use.
A main aim was to provide support and information, which he says were badly lacking back in 2010, and the fight against the HPV virus also became a pressing concern.
This week he said: “Our young men should not be exposed to a terrible, debilitating disease which causes long term suffering and can end lives.”
“We sincerely hope they will now respond rapidly so everyone is protected from HPV at the earliest opportunity.”
On Friday, following the Falkirk Herald’s enquiry, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:“I am pleased to announce that the Scottish Government will implement a HPV vaccination programme for adolescent boys in Scotland.
“We know from the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that this will help reduce diagnoses of HPV related cancers and save lives in years to come.
“Work to develop the programme will now begin, in conjunction with Health Protection Scotland and NHS Scotland, to be rolled out as soon as is practicable.”