On September 25, 2023, the Federal Government announced its plan to implement the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) as a preventive measure against cervical cancer in females.
The decision was unveiled during the bi-annual review meeting of religious leaders on Primary Healthcare delivery held in Abuja.
The government highlighted that administering the HPV vaccine to girls aged nine to fifteen would effectively shield them from the risk of developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer emerges from abnormal cell growth in the cervix. Most cases are linked to specific strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.
By targeting these strains, the HPV vaccine shows the potential to prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV.
The World Health Organization has identified HPV types 16 and 18 as prominent in Nigeria, contributing to nearly half of severe cervical pre-cancers. Tragically, in Nigeria, around 14,000 women receive a cervical cancer diagnosis each year, with 7,968 losing their lives to the disease annually.
What they said
During the review meeting, Dr. Emmanuel Odu, Senior Special Adviser to the Minister representing the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Muhammad Pate, emphasized the importance of combining spiritual insights with scientific knowledge and expertise to effectively tackle health issues.
- “I acknowledge the contributions of our faith-based community to healthcare delivery in the country, as we are aware that some of our religious organizations provide healthcare services at the primary, secondary, and even tertiary healthcare levels. This is most commendable, and I urge you to keep it up, as the government alone cannot do it.
- “The FG under the leadership of His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu, is determined to change the narrative by making health affordable and accessible to all Nigerians. We will therefore need the support of the faith community as we roll out the FG’s agenda for the health of our people. We will be relying on your influence to build trust and enhance community ownership of all our health interventions.”
In his remarks, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, urged religious leaders to help raise awareness in their congregations about the free HPV vaccination, dispel myths and misconceptions about the vaccine, and encourage their members to embrace better health-seeking behaviors.
- “On September 25 this year, we will be introducing the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer when given to our daughters between the ages of nine and 15 years.
- “In your roles as spiritual guides, you own the power to influence hearts and minds, and your words carry weight and inspire action. I urge you to join hands today with the medical community in championing the course of HPV vaccination nationwide.
- By encouraging HPV vaccination within your congregations, you become advocates of life and guardians of health. HPV vaccination is more than a medical breakthrough, but a testament to our unity and the sanctity of life.”