The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination initiative in Nigeria has successfully reached 78% of the targeted national goal of 80%, focusing on the pilot states where the vaccine was implemented.
Dr Joseph Urang, the Immunisation Officer, Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, disclosed this in Port Harcourt during a two-day media dialogue on ‘Care for Small and Sick New-Borns, Oxygen Availability and the Introduction of HPV Vaccine in Nigeria.’
He clarified that the data is accurate as of November 16, indicating the status following the initial phase of vaccine distribution on October 24.
The data, as conveyed by the immunization officer, specifically covers 14 states—Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)—where the vaccine rollout took place.
According to information from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Federal Government has successfully obtained over six million doses of the HPV vaccine. This concerted effort is directed towards protecting girls aged nine to 14 years from cervical cancer and related diseases.
Urang emphasized that Taraba achieved the highest vaccination rate at 98%, while Lagos registered the lowest rate at 31%.
In his explanation, he defined HPV as a double-stranded DNA virus with the potential to cause benign diseases, precancerous lesions, and invasive malignancies.
He said, ‘There are over 170 types of viruses, with 12 currently classified as carcinogenic. HPV infects the basal keratinocytes of the genital mucosa, oral mucosa, and skin, predominantly spreading through sexual contact.’
He added that long-lasting infection with certain types of HPV was the main cause of cervical cancer.
He explained that ‘in Nigeria, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, accounting for approximately 16 per cent of all female cancers.’
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said ‘cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and over 31 million deaths annually.’
‘Nigeria has a population of 56.2 million women aged 15 years and older at risk of developing cervical cancer.’
‘Current estimates indicate that every year 12,075 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 7,968 die from the disease.’
‘Cervical cancer ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria and the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age.’
Urang added that approximately 3.5% of women in the general population were projected to carry cervical HPV-16/18 infection at any given time, with HPVs 16 or 18 accounting for 66.9% of invasive cervical cancers.
He then urged parents and guardians to allow their daughters to take the HPV vaccine, saying, ‘The vaccine is free, safe, and potent against the virus.’
‘The perfect time to take the vaccine is between nine and 14 years of age, as it is most potent.’
He emphasised that there were no known adverse effects following immunisation.