Home News FG introduces HPV vaccine into routine immunisation

FG introduces HPV vaccine into routine immunisation

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The Nigeria’s Federal Government on Tuesday introduced the Human Papillomavirus vaccine into the routine immunisation system.

The vaccination targets over seven million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

Girls aged nine to 14 years will receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that are known to cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer deaths among women aged between 15 and 44 years. In 2020, Nigeria recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.

A statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that a five-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities will be carried out during the inaugural rollout in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“The vaccine will then be incorporated in routine immunisation schedules with in health facilities. The second phase of the vaccination introduction is set to start in May 2024 in 21 states.

“The vaccine is being provided for free by the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the WHO and other partners.

“With support from WHO country office in Nigeria and other partners, over 35 000 health workers have so far been trained in preparation for the campaign and subsequent vaccine delivery in all health facilities.

“Vaccination sites have been established in all 4,163 wards across the 16 states included in the phase one rollout to ensure no eligible girl is left behind. Mobile vaccination units have also been set up to ensure that remote communities can access the vaccine,” the statement read in part.

According to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, the loss of about 8000 Nigerian women yearly from a disease that is preventable is unacceptable.

“Cervical cancer is mostly caused by HPV, and parents can avoid physical and financial pain by protecting their children with a single dose of the vaccine.

Saving lives, and producing quality health outcomes and protecting the wellbeing of Nigerians are central to the Renewed Health Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“The onset of the vaccination campaign is an opportunity to safeguard our girls from the scourge of cervical cancers many years into the future. As a parent myself, I have four daughters, all of them have had the same HPV vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer.

“I would like to implore fellow parents to dutifully ensure that this generation of our girls disrupt the preventable loss of lives to cervical cancer in addition to other untold hardship, loss, and pain,” Pate said.

Also, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo said, “This is a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s efforts to lower the burden of cervical cancer – one of the few cancers which can potentially be eliminated through vaccination.

“We’re committed to supporting the government to increase access to the HPV vaccine to protect the health and well-being of the next generation of women.”

WHO recommends that HPV vaccination is included in the national immunisation programmes of countries where cervical cancer is a public health priority, where its cost-effective and sustainable implementation is feasible.

“As such, Nigeria has prioritised the addition of the vaccine to the country’s routine immunization schedule.

“Global supply shortages have slowed Gavi-supported vaccine introductions.

These supply issues are now easing thanks to years of market shaping efforts to develop a more robust HPV vaccine market, and the single dose recommendation.

“Recognizing this critical opportunity to reach more girls with higher levels of global HPV vaccine supply and renewed momentum towards accelerating efforts to prevent cervical cancer, the Gavi board approved the revitalisation of its HPV vaccine programme with an investment of over $600 million by end of 2025.

“With the additional funding, Gavi and its partners have set an ambitious goal to reach over 86 million girls by 2025, aiming to avert over 1.4 million future deaths from cervical cancer,” the statement added.

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