Nigeria hopes to vaccinate 7.7 million girls by incorporating the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its regular immunization schedule. In the African region, this is the highest number of people vaccinated against HPV in a single round of vaccinations against the virus responsible for almost all occurrences of cervical cancer.
Girls between the ages of nine and fourteen will receive a single dosage of the vaccine, which is effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which are known to be the cause of at least 70% of cervical cancers, according to a statement released by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) yesterday.
Cervical cancer ranks second in Nigeria for cancer-related fatalities among women between the ages of 15 and 44, and it is also the third most common cancer overall. The nation saw 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2020, the most recent year for which data are available.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, stated that it is “completely unacceptable” that over 8,000 Nigerian women die each year from a disease that may be prevented.
The HPV vaccine can prevent children from physical and financial harm by giving them a single dose, as HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s agenda for Renewed Health places a strong emphasis on safeguarding Nigerians’ well-being, saving lives, and achieving high-quality health outcomes. The commencement of the immunization drive presents a chance to protect our young women from the terrible disease known as cervical cancer for many years to come, he continued.
During the first roll-out in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory, a five-day mass immunization campaign in schools and communities will be conducted. Subsequently, the vaccine will be included in regular immunization programs in healthcare facilities. In May 2024, 21 states will begin the second phase of the immunization introduction.
The World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, UNICEF, and other partners are assisting the Federal Ministry of Health in providing the vaccination at no cost through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.