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FG begins HPV vaccination in 16 states

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By Abraham Adekunle

It is second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women aged 15 to 49.

The Federal Government will begin Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged nine to 14 in the country from October 24, 2023. The introduction of the HPV vaccine is seen as a beacon of hope in the country’s relentless fight against the burden of cervical cancer. By immunizing girls at an early age, the government aims to shield them from the most common HPV strains responsible for cervical cancer later in life.

Accordingly, the first phase of the vaccination will encompass 16 states, which are: Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The second phase is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024 and will cover the remaining states, which are: Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

HPV is the 2nd most common cause of cancer in Nigeria.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Abuja on October 17, 2023, Faisal Shuaib, the director-general of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), expressed concerns that cervical cancer stands as the second most common cancer among women in Nigeria. It is also the second most common cause of cancer-related fatalities among women aged 15 to 49 years. According to him, Nigeria alone contributes an estimated 12,075 new cases of global cervical cancer annually.

He said that HPV infection has been identified as a high-risk factor, implicated in 95 percent of cervical cancer cases. With 12,000 new diagnoses and 8,000 lives claimed each year, the infection translates to 33 new cervical cancer cases and 22 deaths every day in our nation. In Nigeria, one life is lost every two minutes to this preventable disease. “Regrettably, this insidious disease ranks among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in 36 countries, including Nigeria”, he disclosed.

Stakeholders had once agreed to start the program in September.

Earlier in August 2023, as part of clinical measures aimed at protecting the teenage girls of ages 9 to 14 in the country against cervical cancer and related diseases, the Federal Government has rolled out Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to immunize millions of girls across 36 States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The clinical immunization against cervical cancer and other related diseases, was set to be rolled out on September 25, 2023, according to the NPHCDA.

While he was speaking in Abeokuta at a stakeholders meeting on advocacy, communication and social mobilization on the introduction of HPV vaccines, Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), disclosed that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection causes second most common cancer that affects women in Nigeria, hence, the Federal Government moved to introduce the HPV vaccines to prevent and protect the girl children. At the event, Tomi Coker, Ogun State Commissioner for Health, had said that the introduction of HPV vaccines against cervical cancer was long overdue going by the estimated cases of 12,075 with 7,968 deaths recorded in Nigeria in 2020,

Ogún State government had inaugurated a technical committee.

Coker had stated that a total of 997,042 girls aged 9 to 14 years of age would be vaccinated across 20 local government areas of the state. Also, the government had inaugurated a state technical working group and social mobilization committee who are expected to meet and sensitize religious and traditional leaders as well as education officers, schools teachers and relevant stakeholders, as part of efforts to get everybody involved in the immunization program.

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