By Sola Ogundipe
FIVE hundred school girls in Ebonyi State have obtained the 1st, 2nd and 3rd doses of the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV, vaccine free of charge for protection against cervical cancer. The procurement of the vaccines and the immunisation process were made possible by the Ebonyi State Chapter of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria, MWAN.
Disclosing this to Good Health Weekly while enumerating activities of the Association for the Cancer Awareness Month, MWAN National President, Dr. Christina Campbell, said it is an achievement vaccinating the children.
Noting that access to the full doses of the HPV vaccine is a priority of the Association, Campell reiterated calls for inclusion of HPV vaccination into the nation’s routine immunisation schedule, even as she expressed optimism that the Federal government would soon accede to the requirement. “From the developed world, we have found the main reason for the reduced incidence and mortality of cancer to be as a result of awareness and increased access to treatment.”
Unhappy with fact that Nigeria is still grappling with cancer burden because there is no awareness and the management is still not widely available, she lamented that for women, cancer of the breast and cervix are the leading causes of death in Nigeria and the incidence of breast cancer is on the increase and cervical cancer comprises 6 percent of all cancers in women.
Urging government to upgrade existing cancer facilities in the country, she said: “We want to remind all stakeholders of the need to upgrade all the 25 functioning cancer care centers in the country so as to avail the people with the facilities for awareness and curtail the disease.
She recalled that government has tagged October cancer month in Nigeria, and is holding the 1st Nigeria leadership cancer summit during which it would be launching a N250 million mobile digital mammography and cancer screening laboratory.
We have been advocating for integration of HPV into the national immunization programme and that girls in JSS2 and those who have attained menarche be taught self breast examination in the curriculum. Boys too, should know how to do breast self examination.”