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NPHCDA advocates collaborative effort for HPV vaccination campaign

by Haruna Gimba
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By Iyemah David

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says collaborative effort is crucial for the success of the upcoming second phase of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign in Nigeria.

The country has set May 27 for the second phase of the HPV vaccine rollout across 21 states, aiming to tackle one of the leading causes of cervical cancer.

Dr Rufai Garuba, Director of Disease Control and Immunisation at NPHCDA, said this on Thursday in Abuja.

Dr Garuba said this at a stakeholder meeting of the national Expanded Programmes on Immunisation (EPI) and non-EPI engagement for the introduction of the second phase of HPV vaccination.

The NPHCDA officials and stakeholders discussed strategies to counteract anti-vaccine misinformation.

“We need everyone on board to ensure this campaign reaches every corner of the country. It’s not just about administering vaccines; it’s about educating the public and dispelling harmful myths,” he stated.

Garuba said the importance of correcting misconceptions and spreading accurate information was to safeguard the health of future generations.

The director called on all health professionals, community leaders, and the media to support the campaign.

He expressed confidence that by working together, the agency believes the country could achieve high vaccination coverage and significantly reduce the incidence of HPV-related diseases.

He said the effort underscores the importance of vaccination in preventing serious health issues and showcases the power of unified action in public health initiatives.

“Increasing HPV vaccination uptake has highlighted the need for comprehensive communication and social mobilisation strategies to address concerns and improve understanding among parents, caregivers, teachers, and adolescent girls themselves,” he added.

Dr Garuba said the agency was at the forefront of addressing one of the most pressing health issues facing Nigerian women today, cervical cancer.

“Central to this effort is raising awareness about HPV, a group of viruses that can infect the genital areas of both men and women.

“HPV is a common virus, and while many infections go away on their own, certain strains can lead to severe health problems.

“Among the most serious consequences of persistent HPV infection is cervical cancer, a disease that affects women globally,” he said.

Garuba said unfortunately, Nigeria was not immune to this threat, carrying a significant burden of cervical cancer cases.

“This disease impacts not only the physical health of women but also the well-being of their families and communities,” he said.

He stressed that Nigeria had one of the highest cervical cancer rates in the world.

“This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for effective prevention and education strategies,” he added.

Garuba said that NPHCDA was committed to addressing this crisis through comprehensive communication and social mobilisation efforts, aimed at improving the understanding among parents, caregivers, teachers, and adolescent girls.

“Human papillomaviruses are double-stranded DNA viruses capable of causing a range of conditions, from benign diseases to precancerous lesions and invasive malignancies.

“There are over 170 types of HPV, with 12 identified as carcinogenic. Among these, HPV-16, -18, -31, -33, -35, -41, -52, and -58 are the most significant globally,” he said.

Dr Aisha Umar, an analyst with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), highlighted the importance of NPHCDA’s efforts and the impact of HPV and cervical cancer in the country.

Dr Umar noted that the NPHCDA’s campaign emphasises the importance of HPV vaccination in preventing cervical cancer.

She stressed that enhancing awareness and dispelling myths are crucial steps the agency hope would increase vaccination uptake and protect the future mothers of Nigeria.

“In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, accounting for approximately 16 per cent of all female cancers.

“Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 341,000 deaths annually.

“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria has an estimated 12,075 new cases of cervical cancer and 7,968 deaths from the disease each year,” she said.

The implementation of the second phase of the HPV vaccine will cover 21 states including Anambra, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

The first phase covered Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, FCT, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, and Taraba.

The HPV vaccine is designed to protect against infections by certain strains of HPV, which can lead to various health issues, including genital warts and cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers.

The vaccine is most effective when administered before individuals become sexually active; it is typically recommended for pre-teens around ages 11 or 12.

It can be given as early as age nine and up to age 26.

It is part of public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of HPV-related diseases. 

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