WHO Pandemic
World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO: HPV Vaccine Will Avert 71,000 Deaths Annually

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), introducing the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to girls in Nigeria from the ages of 9-14 years would potentially avert 71,000 deaths annually if the target coverages are reached.

WHO Technical Officer, Bauchi State, Dr. Mustapha Umar, stated this during a recent one-day media engagement, organised by USAID-IHP in collaboration with Journalists for Public Health Development and Initiative(J4DP), held in Bauchi.

Presenting a paper titled, ‘Update/Preparedness on HPVV Introduction,’ Umar said cervical cancer was a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix, stressing that it was the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide.

According to him, “Experts stated in 2018 alone, it caused an estimated 311,000 deaths worldwide. The majority of these cases were reported in low- and middle-income countries where approximately 84 per cent of global cases and nearly 90 per cent of deaths from the disease occur.

“A research by The Lancet reveals that more than 44 million women globally, stand to develop cervical cancer between 2020 and 2069. It also warned that deaths from cervical cancer will increase a further 50 per cent by 2040 and that many women, their families and communities will be impacted if desirable action is not taken.

“According to WHO, HPV types 16 and 18 cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions. There is also evidence linking HPV with cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis, and oropharynx,” he added.

The WHO Technical Officer explained that “What HPV does is that it invades the cells of the cervix when infected through either anal, oral or vaginal sex. So once that happens, it goes to the cells and causes what we call continuous DNA replications.”

He said some of the warning signs of cervical cancer included blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods, menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual, bleeding after intercourse, douching or a pelvic examination, Increased vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse and bleeding after menopause.”

Meanwhile, the federal government has said it plans to introduce the lifesaving HPV vaccines to protect teenage girls against cervical cancer and other related diseases.

Read Also: Lagos PHC Introduces HPV Vaccine into Routine immunisation

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this during the bi-annual review meeting of religious leaders on PHC Delivery in Abuja, yesterday.

Shuaib said the agency would begin the rollout of the HPV vaccines on September 25 for girls between the ages of 9 and 15.

“This cervical cancer affecting our mothers, sisters and daughters is caused by HPV. On 25 September this year, we will be introducing the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer when given to our daughters between 9 and 15 years.”

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, said there was a need to constantly blend the spiritual with scientific knowledge and skills to address the country’s health challenges.

Pate, who was represented by his Senior Special Adviser, Emmanuel Odu, said the religious leaders could help create awareness among their congregation regarding the free HPV vaccines and also dispel myths and misconceptions about the vaccine.

He said the leaders could also encourage members to embrace better health-seeking behaviours.

“I acknowledge the contributions of our faith community to healthcare delivery in the country, as we are aware that some of our religious organisations provide healthcare services at the primary, secondary and even tertiary healthcare level. This is most commendable, as I urge you to keep it up, as the government alone cannot do.”

Pate said the current administration would change the narrative by making health care affordable and accessible to all Nigerians.

“We will, therefore, need the support of the faith community as we roll out the government’s agenda for the health of our people.”