Lagos Targets Pre-teen Girls for HPV Vaccine 

 Funmi Ogundare 

The Directorate of Health Education and Health Promotion Services of the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (LSPHCB), in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is targeting all girls aged nine to 14 years for human papilloma virus (HPV) immunisation before they are sexually active by age 15. The vaccination, which will be in phases, aims to prevent cervical cancer.

Speaking at a one-day media orientation meeting recently in Lagos, the Director, Mrs. Clara Owojuyigbe described HPV as a sexually transmitted disease which can stay in the body for a long time without the girl noticing and could cause cervical cancer.

She expressed concern that about 12,075 women are coming down with the infection annually, with 7,968 deaths. 

She noted that the objectives of introducing the HPV vaccine in Nigeria are to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of adolescent girls aged nine to 14 by December 2024, achieve routine HPVV coverage of at least 69 per cent for girls aged nine years by December 2025, achieve a minimum of four per cent annual increase in routine HPVV coverage from December 2026, as well as disseminate information on primary, secondary and tertiary preventive measures across the 774 LGAs. 

“Lagos is among the 16 states of Nigeria implementing the Human papilloma virus vaccine introduction in the first phase in the third quarter of 2023. We hope that parents will bring out their girl-child for vaccination exercise,” she stated.

UNICEF’s Adolescent Health and HPV VI consultant, Mrs. Boma Otobo, said Nigeria was about to launch the vaccine.

The first phase, she noted, will take off between September 25 and 30, adding that UNICEF is targeting girls in the schools, out-of-school children and communities.

She noted that African countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Liberia, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Cameroon and Lesotho had successfully implemented the initiative.

“The vaccine is typically recommended for pre-teens and young adults, ideally before they become sexually active,” said Otobo. “Nigeria is planning to introduce a single dose HPV vaccine (Gardasil) into the routine immunisation schedule this year to protect against the viral transmission.” 

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