WHO, Gavi launch HPV vaccination campaign in Borno, Yobe states



Children receiving HPV vaccine / Photo by Path.org

As part of efforts to curb the alarming rates of cervical cancer, the World Health Organisation (WHO), with funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has initiated a comprehensive HPV vaccination campaign in Borno and Yobe states. This state-wide intervention aims to vaccinate children aged 9-14, targeting over 447,000 in Borno and at least 350,000 in Yobe.

Cervical cancer remains a critical public health issue, with over 660,000 cases and approximately 350,000 deaths globally reported in 2022. In Nigeria, it stands as the second leading cause of cancer among women, underscoring the urgent need for preventive measures. The HPV vaccine, which is free, safe, and effective, is central to this campaign.

In a news release, the WHO African Region noted that the initiative is set to cover at least 750 public and private schools across both states, extending its reach to underserved and hard-to-reach areas.

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At the flag-off ceremony in Borno State, Dr Abubakar Hassan, representing the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Professor Mallam Gana, emphasised the state's commitment to thoroughly monitor and ensure the high quality of the vaccination exercise.

“We will strategically monitor the overall exercise thoroughly and ensure high quality of service is sustained,” Dr Hassan stated. He also praised WHO’s leadership and ongoing support in planning and implementing the campaign.

In Yobe State, the launch was championed by the State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajia Ya-Jalo Badama, on behalf of the wife of the Executive Governor. She highlighted the collaborative efforts to ensure the campaign's success and extended gratitude to WHO for their guidance and coordination.

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“All hands and resources are on deck to ensure the success of this campaign and we appreciate the relentless support received from WHO,” Hajia Ya-Jalo remarked.

Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Nigeria Country Representative, underscored the alignment of this initiative with the fourth WHO-Nigeria Country Cooperation Strategy (CCSIV), which promotes universal health coverage and better health outcomes for Nigerians. Drs. Ibrahim Salisu and Alhassan Dama, WHO State Coordinators for Borno and Yobe, reiterated the significance of this campaign in preventing cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers.

“Cervical cancer is preventable, and this vaccination campaign is aimed at protecting at-risk populations against HPV. WHO is ensuring the success of this exercise as it is one of the must-win supports in the states,” they stated.

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This campaign marks a significant step towards addressing the healthcare inequities that contribute to high cervical cancer rates. By providing widespread access to the HPV vaccine and increasing awareness, the initiative aims to significantly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in Borno and Yobe states, setting a precedent for other regions in Nigeria and beyond.

As the campaign progresses, continuous support from WHO and collaborative efforts from state governments and partners will be crucial in ensuring its success and sustainability, ultimately leading to a healthier future for the women and girls of Borno and Yobe States



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