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HPV vaccine: FGN to commence second phase of rollout by May 27

UNICEF optimistic that 80% of Nigerian girls would receive HPV vaccine by December

The Federal Government of Nigeria has assured that the second phase of vaccination for the Human PapillomaVirus (HPV) would commence on May 27, 2024.

The Director of Disease Control and Immunisation at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Rufai Garba, revealed at a one-day sensitisation programme of the National Association of Women Journalists and Women Religious Groups on the vaccination which held in Abuja.

Garba noted that despite the challenges, the country has begun the distribution of the vaccine to states, noting that the exercise will commence on May 27.

“Every 9 to 14-year-old girl deserves protection. HPV vaccine shields them from common strains of HPV that could lead to cervical cancer,” he added.

The first phase of the HPV vaccine was introduced into the routine immunisation system of the FGN on 24th of October 2023 and it is targeting over seven million nine to 14 girls.

The second phase will cover the remaining states – Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

This target is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

The first phase had reached 16 states, including Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory.

In same light, a United Nations Children’s Fund Health Specialist, Dr. Ijeoma Agbo, expressed optimism that over 80 per cent of Nigerian girls aged 9 to 14 will receive the vaccine against cervical cancer by December 2024.

Dr. Agbo stated this during a two-day media dialogue with the theme, “Combating The Most Preventable Form Of Deadly Cancer Affecting Women and Girls Through Vaccination” which held in Lagos.

The media dialogue was targeted at intensifying awareness of the HPV vaccine and its benefits.

The health specialist said, “Our girls are important to us and every girl has a right to life and no one should die from preventable causes of cervical cancer.

Agbo further said, “It is never too late, while we hope that we can improve in the states that we have introduced them to and have now routinised it, in the new states we are going to, we are taking the lessons from those states looking at the strengths and challenges from the strategies we had put in place.

“With this, we are coming together with our communities to develop strategies that would help us in scaling up and the introduction so we can meet our target,” she stated.

Agbo also said there was a need for collaborative efforts among stakeholders against the virus infection.

Nigeria contributes an estimated 12,075 new cases of global cervical cancer annually and the HPV infection has been identified as a high-risk factor, implicated in 95 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

HPV is a viral infection of the reproductive tract that accounts for 95 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

The UNICEF health specialist also pointed out that globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women, and in Nigeria, it is the second most common cancer affecting women.

HPV vaccines prevent infection by certain types of human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause a range of conditions in men and women, such as cervical cancer.

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