As part of efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030, the federal government in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) has announced plans to implement a Secondary Prevention of Cervical Cancer project with awareness, screening and treatment of precancerous lesions of 430,000 women in three states.
Osagie Ehanire, Minister of health who said this in Abuja informed that the project which is UNITAID-funded will kick off in Kaduna, Lagos and Rivers states in the pilot phase over the next 18 months, adding that the training of different categories of health care workers has begun.
Ehanire said this during the lighting up of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Headquarters, as part of activities to mark the celebration of 2020 World Cancer Day, with focus on Cervical Cancer
The minister said government has taken several steps to actualise the WHO 2030 target, while noting that cervical cancer despite being preventable and curable, is still the second most common cancer among women with the second highest death rate in Nigeria.
He restated that government is working to ensure wide accessibility and availability of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, through the National Programme on Immunization by the year 2021.
“This will target our young girls and boys to eliminate Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is known to be responsible for over 70% of Cervical Cancer cases”, he said.
The minister added that the government is currently upgrading some dedicated tertiary health facilities to provide advanced specialised diagnostics and treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
He hinted that the development of a National Hospice and Palliative Care policy to address palliative care needs of patients is projected to be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamor assured that government is committed to achieving the target of 90% Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination coverage, 70% screening coverage and 90% access to treatment for cervical cancer and palliative care (90:70:90) by 2030.
Faisal Shuaib, executive director/ chief executive officer (CEO), NPHCDA, noted that cancer still accounts for high rates of deaths among Nigerians as it is currently responsible for over 72,000 deaths annually.
Shuaib said cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccination of girls and boys, and avert millions of deaths and save billions of naira in economic benefits.
“HPV vaccination will not only benefit Nigerians with good health, but also contribute to our economic and national development, women contribute in the economic Socio-cultural and educational aspects of our lives”, he said.
“The role of women in Nigeria’s development cannot be overemphasised, painfully cervical cancer takes away the lives of women at times they are most needed due to lack of vaccination and prompt treatment.
As the ministry of health, working closely with NPHCDA plans to introduce HPV vaccine to the national Immunization schedule by 2021, Shuaib appealed to traditional leaders who were instrumental to the fight against polio, to extend similar support in sensitisation and promoting acceptance of HPV Immunisation.