By Ndidi Chukwu
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has began planning for vaccination against Human Pappilloma Virus which causes Cervical Cancer.
In a meeting with Stakeholders, the agency announced its readiness to begin a demo project in some selected states of the federation to determine cost, acceptance and method of vaccination before general national vaccination kick-starts.
“defending Nigerians especially women and girls against diseases is our responsibility and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that very soon, HPV vaccines will be available to everybody irrespective of the class, and this is because we want to stop cervical cancer in Nigeria” Dr. Ado Muhammad NPHCDA
Ado emphasised on the need to increase awareness on the transmission of HPV while urging stakeholders in a meeting held at NPHCDA Head quarters in Abuja, to develop awareness messages to encourage women to go for screening and report any unusual thing they noticed in their body which may at a letter stage turn to Cancer.
“all hands must be on deck if we must end HPV transmission which is sexaually transmitted and if not treated may result to cervical cancer, which already kills over 10,000 women in the country, this result is unacceptable and we will not rest until every woman is aware and vaccines are given to girls to save their lives and prevent these deaths” said Dr Ado.
“50% of sexaually active persons have come in contact with the virus, they live with it and if not treated some cases result to cervical cancer in women at a later stage of their lives. We have vaccines already in Nigeria which are given to girls between 9 to 13 years before they are exposed to sexual activities but it has been at personal level what we are planning to do is create a platform where HPV vaccination will be part of our immunization programme ” said Dr Damaris Onwuka, Acting Director Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA.
On the need for inclusion of HPV vaccination in immunization programme in Nigeria, Onwuka explained that,” in Nigeria girls are exposed to early marriages and early sexual activities some lack knowledge on how to prevent transmission of sexaually transmitted diseases so this has made it important for us to provide HPV vaccination to them early enough to boost their immune system and prevent such infections from developing to a more dangerous disease at the latter stage of their lives”
The cost of full vaccination for one girl is huge and this project comes in a time that Nigeria has increased its demand for vaccines Onwuka is optimistic that the government will subsidize the cost.
She said, “the cost is quite high, but we are hoping that the Nigerian government will subsidize the cost of full vaccination and we have partners who are willing to work with us and support our project and make it possible for us to fully vaccinate all girls in Nigeria ”
47.7 million out of the 170 million Nigeria’s populace are women above 15 years, 14.550 are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and 9, 500 women out of these population die Dr Onwuka told Health Reporters.