Cervical Cancer: Kwara First Lady Flags Off HPV Vaccine Initiative

By Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

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The Wife of the Kwara State Governor, North Central Nigeria, Ambassador Olufolake AbdulRazaq, has flagged off the free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Vaccine among school children in Ilorin, the state capital.

READ ALSO: Kwara government takes HPV vaccine to secondary schools

At the event, she assured the public of the efficacy of the vaccine and urged stakeholders to dispel negative rumors and misconceptions surrounding the vaccine.

Ambassador AbdulRazaq highlighted Kwara State’s commitment to leveraging current opportunities to ensure that girls in the state can live free from the threat of cervical cancer.

She emphasized the importance of this initiative as a part of an ambitious strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern.

According to her, the event sets the tone for an ambitious, inclusive strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health concern stressing that HPV vaccines, along with corresponding devices and operational funds, have been provided to the states to support this exercise.

Ambassador AbdulRazaq also thanked Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for his consistent financial support for primary healthcare activities, including the introduction of the HPV vaccine.

She stressed the importance of community engagement and the role of traditional and religious institutions in educating and informing the public to dispel misconceptions about the HPV vaccine.

The First Lady called on parents and guardians, especially mothers, to ensure that all eligible girls between the ages of 9-14 years across the 193 wards in the 16 local government areas of Kwara State are vaccinated during the five-day program.

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NPHCDA, Dr. Muyi Aina, disclosed that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally and the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria.

Aina, who was represented by Sheu Hassan, said that the HPV vaccine is a very important vaccine, adding that, “It prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and causes more than 95 per cent of cases of cervical cancer.

“All eligible girls between the ages of 9-14 years across 193 wards in the 16 local government areas of Kwara State will be vaccinated against cervical cancer during the five days programme.

“Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally and the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria. It is estimated that 604,000 cases with 342,000 deaths occurred globally in 2020, and an estimated 12,075 cases and 7,968 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.”

The NPHCDA boss, who said that the HPV vaccine is free, safe, and effective, urged stakeholders to mobilize family members, friends, and communities to ensure that all eligible girls get vaccinated.

“Let me thank and appreciate the Kwara State Government for its support in strengthening PHC in the state. I want to specially thank Professor Olufolake AbdulRazaq for her role in the fight against cervical cancer.

“HPV vaccines with corresponding devices and operational funds have been provided to the states to support this exercise. I must thank the Governor of Kwara state, for his regular release of counterparts’ funds to support PHC activities, including the HPV introduction.

“Your support, that of the Governors Wives forum, wives of LGA chairmen, traditional/religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations, Women groups, media, and other relevant stakeholders remain paramount to the success of the HPVV introduction and other PHC activities.

“The NPHCDA remains committed to collaborating with the sub-national levels to strengthen routine immunization and other PHC services for better health for all,” Aina added.

The Executive Secretary of the Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Nusirat Elelu announced that no fewer than 311,000 schoolgirls between 9-14 years are targeted for vaccination against cervical cancer across Kwara State in five days.

She disclosed that the HPV vaccine will be available through routine immunization at primary healthcare facilities.

The vaccination programme is being implemented by John Snow Incorporated (JSI), a member of the HPV Vaccine Acceleration Programme Partners Initiative (HAPPI) Consortium, and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A total of 787 school children were vaccinated at the event.

 

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