UNICEF Holds Media Dialogue On HPV Vaccination In SouthWest 

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has enjoined media to create and increase awareness on  the ongoing efforts to prevent one of the most deadly cancers ,Human Papillomavirus (HPV) through vaccination among girl-child.
This was the centerpiece of the Media Dialogue  organised by the the Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board in collaboration with UNICEF
The programme  held at Patron Hotel, Ajah,Làgos  with  the theme  “Combating the most preventable form of deadly cancer affecting women and girls (HPV) Through Vaccination” drawn journalists from across  the SouthWest states .
Sharing the Lagos experience, Dr Adetola Akinpelu, the Immunisation Programmes Coordinator Primary Healthcare Board  said the State rolled out the programme on Octiber 30, 2023 adding the state was targeting 80 per cent vaccination of girls between nine and 14 years old by December 2024.
Dr Akinpelu said the State was able to overcome the initial setbacks caused by rumours,  misinformation and disinformation about the programme.
Akinpelu said the state had so far recorded success stories with the campaign, and vaccinated 44.8 per cent of the targeted population.
He spoke of how some stakeholders initially rejected the programme but added that  the challenges were surmounted through concerted efforts.
Dr Akinpelu admonished the media to key in into programme by  sensitising the public and shun  sensationalism .
According to him  “we actually need the support of the Media to convey the message to the  people for them to take action,because lack of informations makes people to take irrational actions .
“We should let the public realized that if some people had this rare opportunity  their stories would have been different.,lets us concentrate on the people that cannot be reached easily “
Earlier in her  opening remarks , Dr Ijeoma Agbo, UNICEF Health Specialist, made the call during a two-day media dialogue on HPV vaccine on Tuesday in Lagos.

Agbo said that HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and caused more than 95 per cent of cases of cervical cancer.

The UNICEF health specialist, who noted that HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and free, said there was an urgent need for all stakeholders to come together to sensitise Nigerians on its importance.

She hinted that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally and the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria.

“There are over 100 HPV types that have been identified to date, and two human Papillomavirus types (16 and 18) account for about 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.

“It is estimated that 604,000 new cases with 342,000 deaths occured globally in 2020 and an estimated 12,075 cases and 7,968 deaths recorded in Nigeria,” she said

Agbo also said that the high burden of cervical cancer is attributed to several factors, which include poor access to HPV vaccination services, poor screening and treatment as well as low awareness among others.

Agbo, however, said that vaccination against HPV had shown to be effective in preventing persistent infection with high-risk types, which are the primary cause of cervical cancer.

On the objective of the HPV vaccine in Nigeria, Agbo said that the main goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality of cervical cancer by providing HPV vaccine to girls between ages nine and 14.

She also said that the targeted audience for the vaccine is on girls aged 9-14, who can be found in schools, out of schools, places of religious worship, special population settings and groups, among others.

IMr Muhammad Okorie, Programme Manager, UNICEF, highlighted that the media dialogue was an opportunity to sensitise the public about the advantages of proven global interventions in the prevention of HPV through vaccination.

Okorie said it was also an opportunity to reach more people through the media and dissuade the minds of the people on any misgivings about the vaccine.

He appreciated the role of the media in creating awareness about the HPV vaccine and called for more synergy to make the vaccination programme successful.

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