The Federal Government will begin Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged nine to 14 in the country from October 24, 2023.
The introduction of the HPV vaccine is seen as a beacon of hope in the country’s relentless fight against the burden of cervical cancer. By immunizing girls at an early age, the government aims to shield them from the most common HPV strains responsible for cervical cancer in later life.
The first phase will encompass 16 states, including Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, 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, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.
Faisal Shuaib, director-general of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, speaking at a joint press conference with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control in Abuja on Tuesday, expressed concerns that 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.
According to him, 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 percent 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 two minutes to this preventable disease. Regrettably, this insidious disease ranks among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in 36 countries, including Nigeria”, he disclosed.