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Monday, April 22, 2024

4.95m girls vaccinated against HPV -FG

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, said over 4.95 million eligible girls aged nine to 14 years have been vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus since the launch of the first phase of the vaccine in October 2023.

How the HPV vaccine works

The beneficiaries are allegedly spread across 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Pate disclosed this on Wednesday at the third edition of the ministerial Press briefing series initiated by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Abuja.

Pate said the second phase of the HPV vaccine introduction is scheduled for May 2024.

Last October 24, Nigeria began the first phase of its plan to introduce the HPV vaccine into its routine immunisation system.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, mainly transmitted through sexual contact, and most people become infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.

Meanwhile, HPV vaccines prevent infection by certain types of Human Papillomavirus. The HPV vaccines have the potential to prevent more than 90 per cent of HPV-attributable cancers.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, mainly transmitted through sexual contact, and most people become infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity

According to the World Health Organisation, at least 13 of more than 100 known HPV genotypes can cause cancer of the cervix and are associated with other anogenital cancers and cancers of the head and neck.

High-risk HPV (where cancer can occur). Image credit: MNT

The global health body said the two most common “high-risk” genotypes (HPV 16 and 18) cause approximately 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.

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According to the United Nations, “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 – the latest year for which data is available – the country recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.”

Pate said, “I am delighted to announce the successful coverage of HPV vaccination. Since the launch of the HPV vaccine in October 2023 across 15 states plus the FCT, we have successfully vaccinated more than 4.95 million eligible girls aged nine to 14 years representing 80 per cent of eligible girls.

HPV vaccines have the potential to prevent more than 90 per cent of HPV-attributable cancers

“The phase two introduction is scheduled for May 2024 in Anambra, Borno, Cross-river, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Plateau and Zamfara.

“​Pre-implementation activities have commenced to ensure a successful phase two introduction a crucial milestone in our ongoing efforts to combat cervical cancer.

“By prioritsing preventive measures and expanding access to life-saving vaccines, we are taking proactive steps to protect the health and well-being of our women and girls, ensuring a healthier future for generations to come.”

Pate also announced a significant increase in patient attendance at federal tertiary hospitals.

In 2020 alone, Nigeria recorded 12,000 new HPV cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer -UN

“Through targeted investments in infrastructure, technology, and human capital, we will enhance the capacity of these institutions to deliver specialised medical services and handle complex health conditions, ensuring that every Nigerian has access to world-class healthcare when needed.

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“Our commitment to improving tertiary healthcare services is unwavering. 12 tertiary hospitals and centres have been earmarked for infrastructure development, including the establishment of oncology centers, radiology centree, and diagnostics facilities.

“These investments will enhance our capacity to provide specialised care and meet the evolving healthcare needs of our people,” he noted.

Gracie Brown
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