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Cervical Cancer is the second leading cause of death amongst women in Nigeria.

Cervical Cancer: Experts Decry Low Awareness of HPV In Gombe State

Papillomavirus Society of Gombe state has decried the lack of awareness on cervical cancer among women in the state, noting that it is impeding efforts to nip the disease in the bud through early detection.

The society disclosed this during an awareness campaign to commemorate the 2024 International Human Papillomavirus Awareness Day, themed “One less worry.”

A Consultant Gynaecological and Oncologist, Dr. Halima Farouk, while speaking, urged women to embrace the practice of screening, adding that by so doing, death can be averted.

He said, “Human Papillomavirus is very common and doesn’t show. About 80 per cent of women carry the virus. When you have the cancer-causing type for about 15 to 20 years, it will start causing changes in the cervix of the woman, causing cervical cancer. Get your body checked and only screening can help to dictate it.”

Also speaking, a Professor of Medical Microbiology, Mohammed Manga, said the unavailability of screening centres in rural communities is a reflection of the entire health system in the country.

According to him, some states adopted farm-to-farm initiatives, where officials visit farms to vaccinate girls and said through deliberate efforts the challenges would be resolved.

He added, “However, this can be improved with the improvement of the country’s healthcare system. The vaccine can be taken to the villages and given to the girls, unlike treatment where you need machines and equipment.”

While lauding the seriousness of the state government, Manga said the vaccine has been paid for, adding, “For those that will receive it, it will be free of charge. The country started it in 2023 in 16 states, and the remaining 21 states will commence in May this year. It is still going to be free for the ladies and young girls. The efforts should be on awareness to improve uptake to give the desired effect.

“The most important type of cancer targeted for elimination by the year 2030 is cervical cancer. Aside from that, vulva, penile, oropharyngeal, anal, head and neck cancers are caused by the same virus. This vaccine if given, will take care of those other associated cancers.”

Also, a Professor of Epidemiology and Community Oncology at the Gombe State University, and Consultant Clinical Oncology, Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe, Adamu Bojulde, said the day is meant to create awareness of HPV.

He said, “Because of the menace, dangers and death associated with cervical cancer, that is why this day is slated to create publicity on its prevention. It’s difficult to prevent HPV if you are not vaccinated, you can prevent it by doing screening.”

The Executive Secretary, Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Abdulrahman Shuaibu, lamented the inadequacy of screening centres in rural areas and stressed the importance of siting screening facilities in rural areas for early detection.

On his part, Professor of Islamic Studies Rasheed Abdul-Ganiy, who gave an Islamic perspective to vaccines said immunisation is encouraged by Islam.

He, however, decried inadequate knowledge on what Immunisation is by scholars, “Many Muslim scholars lack understanding on what Immunisation is. In our community, once something is coming from the West it’s believed to be harmful.

“There is the affordability challenge. Until Muslim scholars are carried along, the challenge will persist. Let the scholars understand because the problem is the failure of understanding.”