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Second phase of cervical cancer vaccination set to commence in 21 states on May 27

The Phase II of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign is set to be launched in 21 states across Nigeria on May 27th, 2024.

The vaccination drive is expected to play a pivotal role in accelerating the elimination of cervical cancer as a significant public health concern in Nigeria.

The decision to roll out this phase was announced following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) held on Wednesday in Abuja.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, who doubles as the Chairman of the NGF, disclosed that the forum was briefed on the imminent commencement of the vaccination exercise by its Senior Health Advisor, Dr. Ahmad Abdulwahab.

During the meeting, discussions not only centred around the vaccination rollout but also delved into various health-related matters, including the expansion of health insurance coverage, nutritional programs, and the ongoing Primary Healthcare (PHC) Leadership Challenge.

The integration of the HPV vaccine into Nigeria’s national health system was initiated by the government in October 2023 as the first phase of the vaccination campaign rolled out in 16 states.

The initiative aims to immunize approximately 7.7 million adolescent girls aged 9–14. Spearheaded by the Nigeria Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV, ranks as the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Nigerian women aged between 15 and 44 years.

The introduction of the HPV vaccine aligns with WHO recommendations and highlights Nigeria’s commitment to tackling cervical cancer as a public health priority.

Global efforts, including Gavi’s investment of over US$600 million by 2025, aim to expand vaccine coverage and prevent future deaths from cervical cancer.

UNICEF, as a key partner in this initiative, has procured nearly 15 million HPV vaccines and provided logistical support for vaccination campaigns. Additionally, the agency has conducted readiness assessments, dispelled misinformation through informational materials, and ensured access to the vaccine for all eligible girls, regardless of their circumstances.