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Nigerian First Ladies Bemoan a Setback in the Fight Against Cervical Cancer

It is preventable by giving HPV vaccine to girls and boys before sexual activity starts

Nigeria's goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030, as set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), may no longer be attainable.

This is due to the non-availability of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which the federal government intended to include in the normal vaccination program in order to eliminate cervical cancer among women.

Due to a shortage of HPV vaccinations, the vaccination campaign, which was set to begin in the first quarter of 2021, was unable to get off the ground.

The worries were voiced by the Chairperson of the First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC), Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, at the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2021 held yesterday in Abuja.

Shinkafi-Bagudu said:

“Nigeria and other countries have been unable to include HPV vaccines in its routine immunisation schedule despite reasonably high political will and making funds available. The planned rollout of the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 is unlikely to happen in the near future.

“This is solely due to the unavailability of vaccine stock. Achieving cervical cancer elimination by 2030 as prescribed by WHO Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer is not feasible if this situation persists.”

Cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in Sub-Saharan Africa, can be prevented by immunizing girls and boys against HPV before they begin sexual activity, according to her.

Chairperson of the First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC), Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu

Global supply shortages, however, have widened the access gap between high and low middle-income countries, according to the chairperson.

She bemoaned that millions of girls in Africa today have no access to the HPV vaccine, leaving them susceptible to one of the most preventable and curable kinds of cancer.

According to her,

“It is preventable by giving HPV vaccine to girls and boys before sexual activity starts. The HPV vaccine has been available for 15 years and is available as a routine immunisation in over 71 countries, most of which are high income.

Fight against breast cancer campaign

“We, therefore, call on global and national actors critical to delivering cervical cancer elimination that words must translate into actions now.”

Bagudu further said:

“Accelerating the elimination of cervical cancer requires global cooperation among governments, pharmaceutical industry, non-governmental bodies, and multilateral agencies.”

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