The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has disclosed that the Federal Government will be introducing a new anti-cancer vaccine called the Human PapillomaVirus vaccine into the national immunisation schedule in 2023 and 2024 to tackle the increasing rate of cervical, anal and oropharyngeal cancers.
Shuaib stated these in Awka, on Wednesday, during the quarterly review meeting of the South-East Traditional Rulers Committee on primary healthcare delivery.
He said HPV is a commonly transmitted infection that can lead to various health issues, including cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers, noting that the impact of HPV-related diseases is not only physical but also emotional, affecting individuals and families.
The NPHCDA boss, who was represented at the event by the Director, of Disease Control and Immunisation, Dr Bassey Okposen Bassey, said the engagement with the traditional rulers was part of efforts to strengthen primary healthcare facilities and enhance reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health services across the five states of the South-East.
He noted that the meeting was aimed at ensuring effective primary healthcare delivery in the South-East region, with a view to supporting health initiatives and providing the necessary technical support.
He stressed that traditional rulers were critical parts of primary healthcare engagements and urged them to continue to champion the cause of primary healthcare delivery in their respective communities.
He said, “As part of our efforts to strengthen primary healthcare facilities and enhance reproductive, maternal, child, and adolescent health services across the states, we recently launched and initiated the roll-out of the Community-Based Health Research Innovative-Training and Service Programme.
“This intervention aims to optimise human resources for health, reduce maternal and newborn mortality rates, and enhance the capacity of primary healthcare facilities by recruiting skilled birth attendants, medical officers of health, and deploying CRISP resident doctors.
“Also worthy to note is that the Federal Government, in collaboration with our development partners, will be introducing the Human Papillomavirus vaccine into the national immunisation schedule in 2023 and 2024.
“HPV is a commonly transmitted infection that can lead to various health issues, including cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers. The impact of HPV-related diseases is not only physical but also emotional, affecting individuals and families across our society.
“We encourage our majesties to support and actively participate in immunisation activities, awareness creation, and community mobilisation efforts. Your influence and credibility can inspire positive health-seeking behaviour and promote preventive measures within your communities.
“Let us work together to combat misinformation, address vaccine hesitancy, and encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles.”
Declaring the event open, the Anambra State deputy governor, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, who represented the governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, said developing the healthcare system is a strong pillar of the state government.
He added that the state government has taken a bottom-up approach to ensuring that the healthcare system in the state is functional.
Also speaking, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation, Dr Walter Mulambo, said data from the NPHCDA indicated that despite the improvement in immunisation coverage, children who missed vaccinations and have never received doses of routine immunisation, or “zero dose children,” still exist across the length and breadth of the country.
Mulambo said enormous work has gone into containing variant strains of the polio virus, with an attendant 90 per cent reduction in reported variants of polioviruses as of last week compared to the same period in 2022.
“This reduction is an indication of improving immunity amongst the population residing in your various domain communities. It is imperative to note that, as of today, there is no type of poliovirus detected in the South-East.
“We want to sustain this status in the South-East zone and the entirety of Nigeria and in Africa as a continent,” Mulambo added.
Speaking, the Chairman of the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, lauded the initiative and promised to play their role as critical stakeholders in driving primary healthcare in the various communities.
The event was attended by traditional rulers across the five states of the South-East, including Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states, as well as key stakeholders in the health sector.