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Cervical cancer: 6m Nigerian girls to get HPV vaccine in first phase

  • Second phase to commence Q1 2024

Six million Nigerian girls aged nine to 14 years will benefit from the free rollout of HPV vaccine from October 24, 2023.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this on Tuesday [today] at a Press briefing in Abuja.

Advanced cervical cancer symptoms

According to Dr. Faisal, the HPV vaccine will help to prevent HPV infection and reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

A single dose of the Gardasil HPV vaccine was approved for the rollout of the vaccination by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that has a silent harbinger of several types of cancers, including cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women aged 15 to 49 years. Nigeria contributes an estimated 12,075 new cases of global cervical cancer annually.

HPV infection has been identified as a high risk factor, implicated in 95 per cent of cervical cancer cases. With 12,000 new diagnoses and 8,000 lives claimed each year, it translates to 33 new cervical cancer cases and 22 deaths every day in the country.

HPV is caused by a DNA virus belonging to the family Papillomaviridae. The virions are non-enveloped and contain a double-stranded DNA genome.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Cervical Cancer Symptoms

Dr Faisal noted that while vaccination is the most potent prevention measure against HPV, women are encouraged to undergo regular screening tests for early detection and treatment

“Over the past several months, the NPHCDA, in close collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and our dedicated partners, has diligently executed a comprehensive plan to introduce the HPV vaccine. We have bolstered the capabilities of our frontline healthcare workers, ensuring they are adept in administering the vaccine. Alongside our partners and donors, we have secured over six million doses of the HPV vaccine and essential supplies.

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“We have conducted numerous forums to raise awareness among stakeholders, including parents and caregivers regard the pivotal importance of HPV vaccination. To address any concerns or misconceptions, have engaged with communities and established a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to measure the impact and progress of the vaccination campaign.

“This vital vaccine introduction will occur in two phases. The first phase will encompass 16 states, including Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory. The second phase is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024 and will encompass the remaining states: Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyl, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

“1n each phase, we will initiate a five-day campaign encompassing schools, communities, marketplaces, government-owned health facilities and other public places, targeting girls aged nine to 14. Subsequently, we will continue routine vaccination within health facilities for the same age group. By 2025, we anticipate transitioning to full routine Immunization with the HPV vaccine, focusing on girls aged nine.”

Also speaking, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye stated that the agency is committed to ensuring the safety, quality and efficacy of the Gardasil vaccine in the country.

Prof Adeyeye said Gardasil is a vaccine that protects against HPV and it is recommended for girls and boys aged 11 to 12 years, but it can be given as early as nine years or as late as 26 years.

She noted that the decision to deploy the Gardasil as a single dose schedule is based on the scientific evidence that shows that a single dose of Gardasil vaccine can provide solid protection against cervical cancer caused by human papillomaviruses.

“The vaccine is given as two or three doses, depending on the age of the person receiving it. Gardasil has been granted registration approval by NAFDAC in exercising its mandate as stipulated by its enabling law, NAFDAC Act CapN1, LFN 2004 and after rigorous regulatory evaluation process for vaccines.

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“Data from immunogenicity trials, post-hoc analyses of efficacy trials, and post-licensure observational studies among females have demonstrated that a single dose of HPV vaccine is sufficient to elicit an immune response that provides similar protection as a multidose regimen against initial and persistent HPV infection.

“At 18 months post vaccination, the efficacy of a single dose of HPV vaccine against incident persistent high-risk (HPV16/18) infection was 97.5 per cent (95 per cent CI 82–100) for the nonvalent vaccine and 97.5 per cent (95% CI 82–100) for the bivalent vaccine. Current evidence suggests that a single dose has comparable efficacy and duration of protection as a two-dose schedule and may offer programme advantages, is more efficient and affordable, and contribute to improved coverage,” Adeyeye said.

Angel White
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