CSOs target close to 500,000 girls for HPV vaccination in Anambra

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No fewer than 476,664 girls between the ages of nine and 14 are being targeted in Anambra for Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) against cervical cancer beginning May 27.

Mr Patrick Akpan, Technical Assistant, Clinton Health Association Initiative (CHAI), made the disclosure during a mega rally on uptake of HPV vaccine in Nnewi North Local Government Area.

The rally was done by the Education and Research For Sustainable Development (ERSD) in partnership with International Vaccine Access Centre and Direct Consulting and Logistics.

Others involved in the rally are: the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Women Advocates for Vaccine Access and Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) with funding from GAVI through John Hopkins.

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Akpan said that CHAI was offering technical assistance to the state government for the introduction of HPV into routine immunisation to ensure vaccine access to the public.

He said: “This rally is to up-scale ongoing sensitisation in the state and to tell the public that the HPV vaccine is safe, free, and effective.

“No fewer than 89 million girls are expected to be vaccinated across the country, while 476,664 girls are being targeted in Anambra state.”

Mega rally on HPV vaccine uptake in Anambra

Also speaking, Dr Judith Ani, Executive Director, ERSD, said the free vaccine administration would kick off on Monday, May 27, for girls between the ages of nine to 14.

Ani urged parents to take advantage of the opportunity to ensure their daughters within the age brackets are vaccinated.

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According to her, the vaccine is 100 per cent safe and effective for cervical cancer prevention, having been tested in several countries.

“Cervical cancer has been found to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women globally. The cause has been found to be the Human Papillomavirus.

“Before now, some of the residents were expressing fears that the vaccine targets killing Nigerians to reduce African population, but with information and facts, those doubts are being allayed.

“With this rally, those ignorant of the vaccine and its importance are gradually appreciating what HPV is all about and the importance of having the vaccine.

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“We urge parents to allow their children to take the vaccine, because parental consent is critical.

“And the girls should understand that their health is important and the vaccine is in their own interests, ” she said.

Dr Amaka Onubogu, a Consultant Paediatrician at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, said that the free HPV vaccine used to cost about N80,000 to vaccinate a child.

Onubogu, who is also the President, of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, Anambra State chapter, said the uptake of the vaccine would reduce the high mortality rate due to cancer.

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