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A production issue has caused Merck to distribute less HPV vaccines.

Cervical Cancer: Seven Million Girls Vaccinated in Two Weeks

The Gavi Vaccine Alliance has said that an impressive 7 million girls in Nigeria were vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in just two weeks under the second phase of the vaccination exercise which flagged off in May 2024.

Responding to an inquiry by The Guardian, Gavi disclosed that the first phase of the campaign, launched in October 2023, saw 5.3 million girls in 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) vaccinated while the second phase has already seen 7 million girls in 21 states protected and counting.

The organisation explained that with the HPV vaccine entering into routine immunisation schedules in states across the country, Nigeria hopes to immunise some 16 million girls by 2025.

Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among women in Nigeria, claiming countless lives each year.

Globally, cervical cancer causes more than 342,000 deaths annually, with 90% of women dying in low- and middle-income countries.

In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gavi Dr. Sani Nishtar said that this achievement marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s fight against cervical Cancer.

Nishtar added that by vaccinating 7 million girls in just two weeks, Nigeria has made significant progress towards its goal of reaching 16 million girls by 2025.

Nishtar noted that this achievement is a testament to the tremendous collaboration between Gavi, the Nigerian government, and partners.

He stressed that by prioritising girls’ health, the Federal government and its partners are empowering a generation and helping to save countless lives.

According to him, the HPV vaccine offers a highly effective tool for prevention against cervical cancer, with an average success rate of 92%.

“The Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and its partners today celebrate a major breakthrough in girls’ health in Nigeria. In just two weeks, an impressive 7 million girls have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a critical step in protecting them from cervical cancer later in life,” he said.

“In October 2023, Gavi partnered with the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, WHO, and UNICEF to introduce the HPV vaccine into the national immunisation program.

“Building on this success, Gavi further expanded its collaboration with Girl Effect in May 2024 to focus on reaching girls with critical information and ensuring vaccine access.”

Nishtar observed that globally, cervical cancer is responsible for over 342,000 deaths annually, with a disproportionate impact on women in low- and middle-income countries.

According to him, ensuring broad access to the HPV vaccine is critical to reducing this devastating disease burden.

He acknowledged the broader implications of Nigeria’s success story and its potential to inspire other countries to prioritise HPV vaccination.

The HPV vaccine is a highly impactful, effective vaccine, with an average success of 92% in preventing cervical cancer, but its accessibility remains limited for millions worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cervical cancer is the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria and the 2nd most frequent cancer death among women between 15 and 44 years of age.

It kills some 22 women in Nigeria daily. In 2020, The Global Cancer Observatory estimated that over 12,000 cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Nigeria.

Introducing the HPV vaccine into the routine immunisation schedule is critical to preventing HPV infections, a primary cause of cervical cancer.

By protecting adolescent girls, we have the potential to reduce the incidence of this devastating disease significantly.

SOURCE: The Guardian