Nigeria has attained a 78 percent coverage rate for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the initial 12 states where the immunisation programme was rolled out.
According to the Immunisation Officer at the Rivers State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Joseph Urang, over six million girls aged 9-14 have received vaccine doses so far.
He disclosed the figures on Thursday in Port Harcourt during the opening of a two-day media dialogue on “Care for Small and Sick New-Borns, Oxygen Availability and the Introduction of HPV Vaccine in Nigeria.”
The government aims to vaccinate 80 percent of girls within the target demographic, in the designated pilot states, against cervical cancer and HPV-related diseases.
Urang revealed Taraba has recorded the highest 98% immunisation coverage since the October 24 commencement, while Lagos State has the lowest at 31% currently.
He described HPV as a double-stranded DNA virus transmittable through sexual contact, which could trigger genital infections or malignancies like cervical cancer.
He said, “There are over 170 types of viruses, with 12 currently classified as carcinogenic. HPV infects the basal keratinocytes of genital mucosa, oral mucosa and the skin and is predominantly spread through sexual contact.”
Quoting WHO statistics, Urang outlined that Nigeria accounts for over 12,000 new cervical cancer cases and close to 8,000 deaths a year, making it the 2nd most common cancer among women nationally.
“Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and over 31 million deaths annually.
“Nigeria has a population of 56.2 million women aged 15 years and older, at risk of developing cervical cancer.
“Current estimates indicate that every year, 12,075 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 7,968 die from the disease.
“Cervical cancer ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria and the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age,” he noted.
He advised parents and guardians to ensure their daughters take the free HPV jabs within the ideal 9-14 age bracket for maximum potency. Urang assuages fears about adverse effects from data showing no complications post-immunisation.
SOURCE: Punch Healthwise