NOA, UNICEF mobilises traditional, religious leaders on threats of HPV, diphtheria

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The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and UNICEF have called on traditional and religous leaders in Kaduna Central Senatorial District ro raise awareness on the dangers of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and diphtheria. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the LGAs in the Kaduna Central Senatorial District are Kaduna North, Igabi, Kaduna South, Chikun, Kajuru, Giwa and Birnin Gwari. The sensitisation, supported by UNICEF, Kaduna Field Office was also on preventive measures on yellow fever. At the two-day sensitisation meeting on Tuesday in Kaduna, the State Director of NOA, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar said traditional and religious leaders are major stakeholders in all Government activities and programmes. Speaking on the mandate of NOA, he said, the agency is saddled with the responsibility of consistently raising awareness, positively changing attitudes, values and behaviors, accurately and adequately inform and sufficiently mobilise citizens to act in ways that promotes national development. Abubakar therefore said in that regards, the NOA holds traditional and religious leaders in high esteem, noting that they play vital role in ensuring that such programs are better understood by Nigerians. He therefore said in cognisance of the dangers of HPV, yellow fever and diphtheria the NOA turned to development partner (UNICEF) to embark on educating Nigerians on the dangers of the diseases and their preventive measures.
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The NOA State Director, added that HPV infection, diphtheria, yellow fever and cervical cancer are leading health problems and causes of death in many parts of the world, where Nigeria is no exception. He lamented that that hitherto unknown diseases, if not properly understood and checked would continue to claim the precious lives of Nigerians. He therefore noted that the sensitisation programme was aimed at educating the traditional and religious leaders on the dangers posed by the diseases. Abubakar added that the aim of the programme was to solicit for the traditional and religious leaders involvement in disseminating what they learned to ensure prevention of the diseases in their various communities and wards. He also said they would write and submit a report of the programme and its recommendations to Kaduna State Governor for their positive support. He urged all the participants to deduce knowledge impacted on them by the experts in the field particularly as regards to preventive measures of the diseases and practices.
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Earlier the UNICEF Consultant on Tradition and Religious Leaders, Malam Khalifa Abdullahi spoke on the importance of the participants especially on preventive measures of the diseases. He decried the unacceptance of vaccination among some people, while calling on them to embrace it, noting that it is part of the safest means of being prevented from the diseases. Abdullahi said there are vaccination centres in parts of the state, where the traditional and religious leaders are expected to educate the people in their respective places on the need for vaccine. Abdullahi, however, noted that as reflected in a guide, there is an increase in the rate at which people go for routine immunisation at primary health care centres. “This has seen us through a decrease in other health related issues. We believe it is as a result of your contributions. “Despite that, there are still resistance in some areas on acceptance of vaccine,”he said. The consultant therefore urged the participants to step down the knowledge they gained and encourage their followers on the need for vaccination to prevent people especially the most vulnerable (Women and children) from the diseases.
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Speaking on diphtheria, a Resource Person, Mr Lawal Haruna said it is preventable by vaccine and treatable by medical professional. He said it spreads in various ways, requires medical diagnosis such as laboratory tests or imaging, where in short-term it resolves within days to weeks and emergency care in critical condition. Also, Muhammad Abdullahi, the Kaduna South LGA Health Educator, said symptoms of yellow fever, include sudden onset of fever sever headache, back pain, general body weakness, nausea and vomiting. Highlighting the symptoms of low risk HPV, he said it include genital warts. He added that low risk HPV in men causes genital warts on the scrotum, penis, and around the anus. Abdullahi said the warts are cauliflower shaped and may not painful but may be itchy or tender. “These warts are considered low risk because they are not likely to developed in to cancer,”he said. On its prevention, the Resource Person said HPV vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers. He added that consistent condom use can protect woman from HPV infection. He therefore noted that people with HPV don’t develop any symptoms but could still infect others through sexual contact, where symptoms may include warts genotype or surrounding skins. He called for all hands to be on deck to ensure awareness on the diseases and it prevention methods.(NAN)

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