Professor of global health and behavioral science and health education at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D., received a five-year $2.83 million grant award from the National Cancer Institute for enhancement of the understanding of HPV prevention in resource-restrained environments and empowerment of the girls and women in these environments. Through Actions for Collaborative Community Engaged Strategies for HPV, also known as ACCESS-HPV, girls and women will be engaged to provide sustainable, innovative and feasible ideas for increment of the uptake of essential human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention services across Nigeria.
The grant, referred to as for girls and women in Nigeria, aims towards expansion of HPV vaccination among girls and women between 9-26 years old and improvement of cervical cancer screenings for women between ages 30 and 49 years. In several sub-Saharan countries, cervical cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Although the Nigerian government has recommended HPV vaccinations and the self-collection of cervical cancer screenings, uptake has been very poor. In Nigeria, there are 28 daily casualties of cervical cancer in Nigeria.
With support from NIMR and national HPV programs, HPV will end.
Currently, Nigeria only has 10 percent of women who have been screened and 14 percent of girls who have received vaccinations for HPV. The professor and her team will implement participatory crowdsourcing methods, as in her I-TEST grant in Nigeria, to enhance HPV prevention among young girls and women to enable an increased percentage of the vaccinated. Through this method, the multifaceted team would gain easy identification of locally relevant messages and methods of dissemination to improve the uptake of HPV prevention.
To foster an increase in the uptake of HPV vaccination among girls and HPV self-collection among mothers, mother-daughter relationships in the country can be employed. In the Nigerian cultural context, mothers and female guardians significantly influence decisions and preferences relating to the vaccination of young girls. Creation of an effective research structure and increment in the likelihood of successful implementation is certain through support of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and national HPV programs.
Education, inspiration and vaccination, will eliminate cervical cancer.
Iwelunmor and her research team are focused on determining how effective a final combined campaign on the uptake of HPV vaccinations among girls and women and HPV self-collection among mothers and female guardians can be. The SLU professor asserted that girls and women share an equal feeling of hope when they all come together to educate and be a form of inspiration to one another. Through this, it was predicted that there will be a change which will lead to the elimination of cervical cancer.
Initiation of strategies for creation of long-lasting impact in a certain community require the strength and intelligence of members of the community which, in this case, are young girls and women. The Saint Louis University researcher would implement this strategy through crowdsourcing framework to increase HPV vaccination and HPV screening for reduction of incidents of cervical cancer among young girls and women. This would be achieved through four-week innovation bootcamps, and participatory learning for building capacity for community-led implementation of the ideas.
SLU studies environmental influences in respect to people’s well-being.
The co-principal researchers of the team include director of research at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Lagos, Oliver Chukwujekwu Ezechi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of maternal, reproductive and child health at the Lead City University Ibadan, Nigeria, and Professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Joseph D. Tucker, M.D., Ph.D. The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice studies, social environmental and physical influences while determining the health and well-being of people and communities.