Cervical Cancer Vaccine: Lagos Flags Off Campaign

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: Lagos Flags Off Campaign

•UNICEF targets 400,000 eligible girls in Bauchi

Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi and Funmi Ogundare in Lagos

The Lagos State Government, yesterday, kicked- off the first phase of the HPV campaign for girls between aged 9 to 14 years, across the state, to prevent cervical cancer.

The Wife of the state governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who flagged-off the campaign at the Surulere Local Government Secretariat, emphasised the importance of preventing cervical cancer and ensuring a healthy population in the state.

She appealed to all stakeholders to sensitise the community, parents, schools, market women, religious centres, among others, towards making the girl-child available for the vaccine.

According to her, “we don’t want any of our children to get infected with cervical cancer and other diseases. Unfortunately, we have a lot of women who die of the disease, which should have been prevented.”

She dispelled the rumour making rounds about the vaccine, saying that it had been tested and found to be safe.

“It is important that we debunk some of these information and verify from people in authority and health workers.

“Education and accurate information are key to empowering our community. Fake news will cause war,” Sanwo-Olu stated, adding that the vaccine was also free.

She commended the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, UNICEF and other agencies of government who have contributed towards the successful take-off of the campaign.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Ibrahim Akinwunmi Mustafa, explained that HPV is sexually transmitted and was the causative agent of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases such as skin and genital warts.

He quoted the 2018 NDHS report, saying that up to 19 per cent of women, who initiate sexual intercourse by the age of 15 years have an increased risk of contracting the infection. Mustafa noted that schools and primary health centers have been earmarked as vaccination centers for wider and faster coverage.

The permanent secretary, however, appealed to all stakeholders including parents, guardians, community and religious leaders to ensure all girls in that age bracket are vaccinated during the campaign.

The Chief of Lagos Field Office UNICEF,  Celine Lafoucriere described the launch of the campaign as a major milestone in the state’s public health system and a step in the right direction towards achieving the health SDGs for adolescent girls.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 400,000 girls have been targeted for inoculation against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Bauchi State by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

Similarly, a group of community volunteers engaged for the effective mobilisation for the success of the ongoing HPV vaccination campaign in Toro LGA of Bauchi State have expressed satisfaction with the response of parents.

Speaking to journalists in an interview yesterday, the Health Specialist, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr. Emmanuel Emedo, said the exercise targets girls within the age of nine and 14, adding that it would protect them against cervical cancer when they get to the reproductive age.

He explained that, “This vaccine is going to protect the girls against cervical cancer when they get to the reproductive age. It is therefore very important that they are allowed to receive the vaccine.”

According to him, “We are actually monitoring the campaign across all the 20 Local Government Areas of Bauchi state and we have personnel that monitoring. This includes personnel from the state government, UNICEF, World Health Organisation and all other partners in the field.”

Emedo added that, “The reports we are getting is that, there is impressive turnout across the entire state and this has to do with the level of preparedness. We had series of engagements before the launching of the campaign.”

According to him,”We have a total of 6,450 women across the 323 Wards in Bauchi state who have been engaged for mobilisation of girls for this particular campaign.”

On the refusal of some parents not to allow their girl children to take the vaccine, he said Committees had been set at all the wards across the state saddled with the responsibilities of reviewing the exercise on a daily basis and take steps to resolve all issues relating to non-compliance.

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