LeadNigeria Implements Africa's Largest HPV Vaccine Drive to Combat Cervical Cancer

Nigeria Implements Africa’s Largest HPV Vaccine Drive to Combat Cervical Cancer

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Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has introduced an ambitious mission to combat cervical cancer, launching the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunization program. The HPV vaccination drive aims to reach 7.7 million girls, marking the continent’s largest-ever effort to tackle the virus responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer.
Girls between the ages of 9 and 14 will receive a single dose of the vaccine, renowned for its efficacy in preventing HPV types 16 and 18 infections, which are responsible for at least 70% of cervical cancer cases. This initiative is a collaborative effort between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigerian Ministry of Health.
Africa carries one of the heaviest burdens of cervical cancer deaths, primarily due to the lack of prevention, screening, and treatment services. In 2020, Nigeria recorded 12,000 new cervical cancer cases and 8,000 deaths, making it the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related fatalities among women aged 15 to 44.
Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, expressed his concerns, saying, “The loss of about 8,000 Nigerian women yearly from a disease that is preventable is completely unacceptable.”

Introduction of HPV Vaccination

The introduction of the HPV vaccine aligns with the WHO’s “90/70/90” global initiative to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health threat. The strategy includes vaccinating at least 90% of girls against HPV by age 15, screening 70% of women by age 35, and treating at least 90% of identified precancerous lesions and invasive cancers.

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Nigeria joins the ranks of African countries, with Rwanda being the first to introduce HPV vaccination in 2011. Although progress has been slow, initiatives like the one launched by UNICEF, which is supplying millions of vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries, are expected to boost HPV immunization efforts across the continent.

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