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Cervical cancer: UNICEF targets 90% HPV vaccination by December

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is targeting vaccination of 90 percent of Nigerian girls, from age 9 to 14, against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) by December 2024.

This is just as the second phase of the HPV vaccination of teenage girls would commence in other SouthWest states of Ekiti, Ondo and Oyo on May 27.

Lagos, Ogun and Osun were part of the states in the first phase of the HPV vaccination.

UNICEF health specialist at Lagos field office, Dr Ijeoma Agbo, said this at a 2-day media dialogue tagged, “Combating The Most Preventable Form Of Deadly Cancer Affecting Women and Girls Through Vaccination” ahead of the flag off.

The media dialogue which took place in Lagos attracted journalists from both print and electronic media across the South West States.

Agbo said the vaccination recorded over 50 percent success rate during the first phase which commenced in Ogun, Osun and some Northern states last year.

She said Lagos, however, so far recorded less than 50 percent vaccination due to some rumours and misinformation about the vaccines in the state.

She attributed the high burden of cervical cancer, poor access to HPV vaccination services, poor screening and treatment as well as low awareness among others.

The health specialist called on parents and guidance to make their teenage girls available for vaccination.

Agbo said “We are hoping to achieve at least 90 percent vaccination target when it comes to HPV vaccination.

“If you look at the country, we will say we did well because if you look at the coverage, it is about 50 something percent, but in the SouthWest we did not do as well as we would have hoped. Osun state was as high as 70 percent after a lot of targeted approaches that were being put in place. Ogun State is still at 40 something percent while Lagos is at 43 percent.

“But for states in the North, some did as high as 70 percent, so that shows that in the South we have a lot of work to do.

“We are introducing the remaining three Southwest states and Edo. These states are in close proximity to Lagos, Ogun and Osun where we introduced earlier and we can’t take it for granted. Whatever issues we have had might also happen in these states and that is why we are coming out earlier to look at the successes and the issues and see how we can use that to improve the introduction in other states and also in the states that we have introduced going forward.

“To the parents, we need their support, UNICEF has a mandate which is that of every child and for this we are talking about how our girls should live to survive, thrive and fulfill their full potential in life. We do not want any girl in future to come down with cervical cancer and that is why this laudable initiative has been brought to the country”.

In his remarks, Programme Manager of UNICEF, Muhammad Okorie, said, the media dialogue was an opportunity to sensitise the public about the advantages of proven global interventions in the prevention of HPV through vaccination