In Nigeria, medical and health practitioners are putting in efforts to combat the rising cases of cervical cancer in women. According to an HPV Centre, current estimates indicate that 12,075 women are diagnosed with the disease every year and 7,968 die from it yearly. It ranks as the second most frequent HPV cancer in the country and among women between 15 and 44 years. It is also the fourth most common cancer among women globally, responsible for 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths.
Human papillomavirus infection, known as HPV, is an infection that causes warts in various parts of the body depending on the strain. It is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). However, there are other types of HPV referred to as “oncogenic” (meaning cancer-causing) because they put the victim at risk of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer discovered that 13 HPV types can cause cervical cancer. As well, one of them can cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, etc.
This infection leads to cervical cancer in women and girls.
When the body’s immune system cannot get rid of the infection, it can linger over time and attack normal cells, turning them abnormal and then cancerous. Records have shown that about ten percent of women with the infection on their cervix will develop the long-lasting kind, which puts them at risk of cervical cancer. It is the same for other parts such as the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. As it is, Nigerian women are at more risk of this disease than any other kind of cancer.
Vaccines are used to protect against the types of this infection that most often cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, and anus. Cervical cancer can especially be prevented or found early through regular screening and follow-up screening. This is why the Federal Government plans to introduce the human papillomavirus vaccine into its routine immunization schedule, starting September 2023, to stem the occurrences of the disease in the country. With this, girls with the infection can have an early and advantageous fighting chance.
Nigeria to introduce the vaccine to teenage and preteen girls free.
Dr. Faisai Shuaib, the executive director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), announced this in Akure at the opening of the quarterly review meeting of South West zone traditional leaders’ Committee on primary healthcare. He lamented that cervical cancer was cutting short the lives of many promising women and girls. Hence, the government needed to make the HPV Vaccine available for girls between nine and fourteen years at no cost. He noted that the agency will employ the charisma of traditional rulers, who are the closest to the people at the grassroot level.
They would encourage people to access primary health care services especially on preventable diseases. As they do this, more girls and women will be motivated to take the vaccine and prevent or fight the disease. Also, children who lack or have never had immunization will be properly vaccinated. Dr. Shuaib revealed that from January to June 2023, a total of 189,310 children in the South-West zone lack access to or were never reached by any routine immunizations. He explained that the meeting was aimed at promoting an effective primary health care delivery to the people of the South West in particular and Nigeria in general.
Ondo acting governor says traditional rulers’ role yielding results.
At the meeting which was attended by 24 traditional rulers from the six states in the South West, Ondo State Acting Governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, said that the pivotal role played by traditional rulers in the healthcare delivery system were yielding results especially in the area of routine immunization as well as maternal and child health. As well, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, revealed that traditional rulers in the South West were working closely with the Federal Government to ensure that Nigerians have access to quality healthcare. The Oba promised that the meeting would review ways of strengthening the nation’s health system with specific attention to resurgence of polio which the country had fully eradicated.