The Federal Government is set to commence the vaccination of young girls with over six million doses of Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) vaccine in order to fight against the burden of cervical cancer.
Saying, immunizing girls at an early age, we aim to shield them from the most common HPV strains responsible for cervical cancer in later life.
Speaking at a joint press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director/CEO National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye hinted that on October 24th, 2023, we will mark the national launch of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls aged 9 to 14 in Nigeria.
Saying, the introduction of the HPV vaccine is not just a medical advancement; it is a profound leap forward in our mission to protect the health and aspirations of our young girls. It empowers them to lead healthy lives and become the formidable women and mothers.
Adding that, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection, has been a silent harbinger of several types of cancers, including cervical cancer. Tragically, cervical cancer stands as the second most common cancer among women in Nigeria, and the second most common cause of cancer-related fatalities among women aged 15 to 49 years.
Nigeria alone 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% 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 our nation.
In Nigeria, one precious life is lost every tomorrow two minutes to this preventable disease. Regrettably, this insidious disease ranks among
the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in 36 countries, including Nigeria. This is why the introduction of the HPV vaccine is a beacon of hope in our relentless fight against the burden of cervical cancer.
The HPV vaccine has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective in preventing HPV infection and reducing the risk of cervical cancer. I am delighted to share that this vaccine will be provided for free of charge to all eligible girls in Nigeria, commencing on October 24, 2023.
According to Shuaib:”Many countries, both in the Western and African regions, have already integrated this vaccine into their immunization schedules. The proactive introduction of the HPV vaccine in Senegal in 2018 resulted in a remarkable 90% reduction in high-grade cervical abnormalities among vaccinated women, demonstrating the vaccine’s undeniable effectiveness. Similarly, Ghana’s commitment to vaccinating against HPV has achieved impressive coverage rates of 99.5% and 94.7% among eligible girls.
“However, while vaccination is the most potent prevention measure against the Human Papilloma Virus, we strongly encourage women to undergo regular screening tests for early detection and prompt treatment.
“This vital vaccine introduction will occur in two phases. The first phase will encompa 16 states, including Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enug Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. 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.
“In each phase, we will initiate a five-day campaign encompassing schools, communities, marketplaces, government-owned health facilities and other public places, targeting girls aged 9 to 14.
He appealed to parents, caregivers, and guardians to seize this opportunity and ensure their daughters, aged 9 to 14, receive the HPV vaccine. In doing so, we are not only securing their health but also making an indelible contribution to the reduction of cervical cancer in our society. I call on all influential figures within our communities, from religious leaders to traditional leaders, community leaders, school proprietors, civil society organizations and our esteemed media partners, to join us in championing the advantages of this vaccine while dispelling any misconceptions. We recognize that the success of this.
He expressed gratitude to GAVI and our unwavering partners who have tirelessly worked alongside us to reach this stage. As we enter the next phase of our journey, let us remember that every daughter we protect today is a beacon of hope, a testament to our collective resolve to prevent suffering and save lives. Together, we can indeed make a difference in the lives of our girls, shielding them from the devastating effects of cervical cancer.
Earlier, Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, Director General NAFDAC said that the agency is committed to ensuring the safety, quality and efficacy of the Gardasil vaccine, and will continue to monitor its impact and performance in Nigeria.
Saying, Let us together reduce drastically or eliminate the incidence of cervical cancer in our country by taking advantage of this opportunity.
According to her: “The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) will commence the introduction of the off-label use of quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine as a single dose schedule into the routine immunization in Nigeria in the last quarter of 2023. The decision to deploy the off-label 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 (HPVs).
“NAFDAC is in support of this decision as 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. Also the World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has recently updated its recommendations on HPV vaccination schedule and has advised that a single dose schedule can be used for girls aged 9-14 years and young women aged 15-20 years, instead of the previous two or three-dose schedules.
“The benefits of the single dose Schedule the benefits of this single dose approach include:Reducing the cost and logistical challenges of delivering multiple doses, especially in resource-limited settings; Increasing the coverage and equity of HPV vaccination, as more girls and women can access the vaccine.
Accelerating the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem, as part of the global strategy launched by WHO in 2020.
Global cost-effectiveness analysis suggests that vaccinating pre-adolescent girls is usually cost-effective for cervical cancer prevention, particularly in resource constrained settings where screening and other cervical cancer prevention and control measures often have limited coverage.” she said.
Similarly, The Deputy Country Representative, World health Organization (WHO) Alexander Chimbaru in his goodwill message applauded the Development of the HPV vaccine as a milestone which people should take advantage of by encouraging girl child to take to prevent Cervical cancer, and called for cooperation from parents, traditional and religion leaders to support the government by encouraging people to take the vaccine as the vaccine is currently being used in 24 African countries without adverse effects.
In the same vein Dr Eduardo Celades Chief Health of UNICEF described the HPV vaccine as a landmark which is going to improve the health status of young girls while also addressing the misinformation about the vaccine as a result of lack of correct information, concerns about its safety and lack of trust.
He said the there are evidence from global usage that the vaccine is safe ,as it has been approved by the world health organization and Nafdac and that it works.