The Federal Government has announced its forthcoming introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine on September 25, 2023, as a preventive measure against cervical cancer among women and girls.
This declaration was made during the bi-annual review meeting of religious leaders on Primary Healthcare delivery held in Abuja on Monday.
The administration of the HPV vaccine to girls aged nine to 15 years is aimed at curbing the risk of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix, with certain strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, being implicated in its causation.
The HPV vaccine holds the potential to avert more than 90 percent of cancers attributed to HPV.
The World Health Organization has identified that two HPV types (16 and 18) prevalent in Nigeria are accountable for nearly 50 percent of high-grade cervical pre-cancers. In Nigeria, approximately 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, leading to around 7,968 fatalities.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Muhammad Pate, represented by the Senior Special Adviser to the Minister, Dr. Emmanuel Odu, conveyed the Federal Government’s message during the review meeting. He emphasized the importance of blending spiritual and scientific knowledge to address health challenges.
Dr. Pate asserted, “The FG under the leadership of His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu, is determined to change the narrative by making health affordable and accessible to all Nigerians. We will therefore need the support of the faith community as we roll out the FG’s agenda for the health of our people.”
In alignment with this initiative, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, called upon religious leaders to play a role in raising awareness about the HPV vaccination, dispelling misconceptions, and encouraging healthier behaviors.
Dr. Shuaib stated, “On September 25 this year, we will be introducing the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer when given to our daughters between the ages of nine and 15 years.”
Sultan Abubakar III, President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, highlighted the need to address basic needs such as food and advocated for hope while acknowledging the ground realities. He affirmed the readiness of religious leaders to collaborate with the government to address health issues.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, expressed satisfaction with the increasing attention to primary healthcare and the collaborative efforts between religious bodies and the government in healthcare initiatives.
These measures signify a collaborative approach to address healthcare challenges and provide improved healthcare access, particularly in rural areas.