July 20, 2024

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Nigeria fights cervical cancer with HPV vaccine, extends campaign across country

2 min read

First introduced as part of the routine immunisation programme in October last year the HPV vaccine, developed to help prevent cervical cancer, was extended to a majority of Nigerian states on Monday.

In the country’s southwestern Oyo state, health workers took part in a drive to spread information about the vaccine in local villages.

“We have heard about the cervical cancer before now and we are aware of the disease it creates, that’s why I asked my daughter to go get vaccinated as a preventive measure,” said Ramotalai Awoniran, after her daughter received the vaccine.

The HPV vaccine is now available across the country.

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, according to the United Nations.

In 2020 – the latest year for which data is available – the country recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.

Unlike other vaccination campaigns that the West African country has successfully run against all odds – like the more than 500 languages spoken by its population of at least 210 million people that could make communication more challenging or the underfunded primary healthcare centers which are the remotest government-run health facilities where the shots are usually given – HPV is quite different.

Ahead of the nationwide vaccination drive, Nigerian authorities had been ramping up campaigns online and offline to educate citizens about the HPV vaccine.

“There are some rumours going around that they want to reduce the fertility of the girls, but we have been educating the parents that this vaccine is safe, the only thing it does is it prevents cervical cancer, ” Oyo-west’s primary health care coordinator, Lagbenro Arinlade-Ayoade, told The Associated Press.

Although the HPV vaccine has been in use in many developed nations for about two decades, it has only been introduced in the immunization programmes of just half of the countries in Africa despite the continent’s heavy burden.

One in five cervical cancer deaths that occurred globally in 2020 was in Africa, where 100,000 women developed the disease with 70,000 deaths recorded.

By Rédaction Africanews

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