In a bid to improve women’s health, the Federal Government has announced its plan to introduce the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) as a preventive measure against cervical cancer in women on September 25, 2023.
The announcement was a key highlight of the bi-annual review meeting of religious leaders on Primary Healthcare delivery held in Abuja.
The government’s decision to administer the HPV vaccine to girls aged nine to fifteen is a proactive move aimed at providing a protective shield against the risk of developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer, characterized by abnormal cell growth in the cervix, often has its roots in specific strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. The introduction of the HPV vaccine carries the potential to prevent more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV.
In Nigeria, HPV types 16 and 18 have been identified by the World Health Organization as prominent culprits, contributing to almost half of severe cervical pre-cancers.
The urgency of this vaccination program is underscored by the distressing statistics surrounding cervical cancer in Nigeria. Annually, approximately 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, leading to the tragic loss of 7,968 lives to the disease.
The introduction of the HPV vaccine offers hope for a brighter future, significantly reducing these alarming numbers and safeguarding the health and well-being of the nation’s women.
During the review meeting, Dr. Emmanuel Odu, Senior Special Adviser to the Minister representing the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, commended the faith-based community for their valuable contributions to healthcare in the country.
He stressed the government’s determination to make healthcare accessible and affordable for all citizens, highlighting the need for collaborative efforts between the government and religious institutions.
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, called upon religious leaders to actively raise awareness about the free HPV vaccination among their congregations.
He emphasized dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding the vaccine and encouraging members to embrace healthier behaviours.