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HPV: Nigeria to vaccinate 7.7 m girls against cervical cancer

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja  

The Federal Government, FG, has concluded arrangements to vaccinate 7.7 million girls against cervical cancer. 

In a statement issued by United Nations children’s Funds, UNICEF, and made available to journalists in Abuja.

It revealed that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a routine immunization system, and the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

 The vaccine which is aimed to fight against the virus that causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer.

The statement reads, “Girls aged 9–14 years will receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that are known to cause at least 70% of cervical cancers.

“In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer deaths among women aged between 15 and 44 years. In 2020 – the latest year for which data is available – the country recorded 12 000 new cases and 8000 deaths from cervical cancer”.

According to Coordinating Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, “The loss of about 8000 Nigerian women yearly from a disease that is preventable is completely unacceptable.

“Cervical cancer is mostly caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and parents can avoid physical and financial pain by protecting their children with a single dose of the vaccine. Saving lives, and producing quality health outcomes and protecting the wellbeing of Nigerians are central to the Renewed Health Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The onset of the vaccination campaign is an opportunity to safeguard our girls from the scourge of cervical cancers many years into the future. As a parent myself, I have four daughters, all of them have had the same HPV vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer. I’d like to implore fellow parents to dutifully ensure that this generation of our girls disrupt the preventable loss of lives to cervical cancer in addition to other untold hardship, loss, and pain.” 

The five-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities will be carried out during the inaugural rollout in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The vaccine will then be incorporated in routine immunization schedules with in health facilities. The second phase of the vaccination introduction is set to start in May 2024 in 21 states.

The vaccine is being provided for free by the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners.

With support from WHO country office in Nigeria and other partners, over 35 000 health workers have so far been trained in preparation for the campaign and subsequent vaccine delivery in all health facilities. Vaccination sites have been established in all 4163 wards across the 16 states included in the phase one rollout to ensure no eligible girl is left behind. Mobile vaccination units have also been set up to ensure that remote communities can access the vaccine. 

Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, “This is a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s efforts to lower the burden of cervical cancer – one of the few cancers which can potentially be eliminated through vaccination.

“We’re committed to supporting the government increase access to the HPV vaccine to protect the health and well-being of the next generation of women”.

WHO recommends that HPV vaccination is included in the national immunization programmes of countries where cervical cancer is a public health priority, where its cost-effective and sustainable implementation is feasible. As such, Nigeria has prioritized the addition of the vaccine to the country’s routine immunization schedule.

Global supply shortages have slowed Gavi-supported vaccine introductions. These supply issues are now easing thanks to years of market shaping efforts to develop a more robust HPV vaccine market, and the single dose recommendation. Recognizing this critical opportunity to reach more girls with higher levels of global HPV vaccine supply and renewed momentum towards accelerating efforts to prevent cervical cancer, the Gavi board approved the revitalization of its HPV vaccine programme with an investment of over US$ 600 million by end of 2025. With the additional funding, Gavi and its partners have set an ambitious goal to reach over 86 million girls by 2025, aiming to avert over 1.4 million future deaths from cervical cancer.

 Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, said “Every day, cervical cancer inflicts profound loss and devastation on families across Nigeria. It also disproportionately impacts the lives of women. And yet, it is a disease that can be prevented. With the HPV vaccine now available in Nigeria for eligible adolescent girls at no cost, communities now have the most effective tool to fight cervical cancer and the nation has an opportunity, collectively to save millions of lives,”.

Over 16 million girls could be protected in Nigeria alone by 2025.To support these efforts in Nigeria and in line with its goal to build sustainable immunisation programmes, Gavi is co-financing the cost of the vaccines and providing technical support for the introduction.

UNICEF has procured nearly 15 million HPV vaccines on behalf of the Government of Nigeria.

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Wuye/Wuse Flyover 85% Completed, Ready in May – Wike

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The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, says the Wuye/Wuse Flyover is 85 per cent completed and will be inaugurated in May.

Wike stated this in Abuja on Saturday, after inspecting the project, along with the Vice-President’s residence and  11-kilometre (km) six lane dual carriage expressway linking Airport Expressway to Kuje.

Wike added that the road from Kuje to Airport Expressway, when completed, would open the area for transformative economic growth and development.

The minister, who equally visited the vice-president’s residence being handled by Julius Berger, expressed optimism that the project would be completed in May.

“I must commend the various contractors, the Arab Contractors and Julius Berger.

“The first site we went to is almost 85 per cent completed, that is, one of those interchanges in Wuye District. The contractors are keeping faith with their commitment to handover the project by May.

“Then we also went to Kuje to inspect the six-lane road of about 11km. The road from the Airport Road down to Kuje will open that area of the Area Council.

“The last time when I went to flag off one of the rural roads, we didn’t see much about the contractors, and I did say that the contractors are not serious.

“Going back there today, I am very impressed with the level and quality of work,” he said.

Speaking at the official residence of the vice-president, the minister said the contractors were at the stage of electrical installations, adding that a lot of changes would be seen in the next few weeks.

“We were at the VP’s residence which is being handled by Julius Berger and like I said, they have made further commitment that by May, they are going to hand it over.

“They are known for quality, and we are financing them well,” the minister said.

Wike reiterated that no ongoing project in the FCT would be abandoned, adding that the projects were considered as priority and have been included in the FCT’s 2024 statutory budget to ensure adequate funding. (NAN)

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Benue Rep Hands over Reconstructed Police Division, Quarters

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The Member representing Gwer /Gwer West Federal Constituency, Arc Asema Achado, has pledged to

enhance the working condition of police personnel in the constituency to boost their morale.

Achado made the pledge when he handed over the reconstructed Aliade Divisional Police Headquarters and personnel quarters, on Saturday in Gwer Local Government Area.

“This initiative stems from my firm belief that a conducive working environment fosters the morale of officers, thereby bolstering their capacity to combat criminal activities and mitigate the prevailing insecurity in the local government area”.

He said law enforcement agencies play critical roles in safeguarding the country and needed good working environment to operate effectively.

Achado recalled that the police division and personnel quarters were in a dilapidated state,  and he had to lobby the Federal Government through the Nigeria Police Force to award the contract.

He urged local authorities and Benue Government to provide infrastructure, vehicles and other logistics for the police and other security agencies to be more clinical in the discharge of their responsibilities.

An official of the Federal Housing Authority, Dr Mathias Byuan, said the federal government has made adequate provision for the building affordable houses for Nigerians.

He also said President Bola Tinubu was committed to providing enough funds to all security formations to enhance Nigeria’s internal and external defence systems. (NAN)

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Police Place N50m Bounty on 2 Katsina Bandits

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The Police Command in Katsina State on Sunday promised a N50 million reward to anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of two bandits – Modi Modi and Jan Kare.

The Police, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, alleged that the duo had been responsible for most of the terrorist attacks in the state.

The statement alleged that Modi Modi and Jan Kare, all males, were operating within Katsina State, particularly in the regions of Kankara and Safana Local Government Areas.

“The safety of the residents is of paramount importance, that is why we are making these commitments.

We are taking decisive actions against criminal elements threatening peace and stability,” it said.

Aliyu explained that the identity of the informant and the information provided would be kept strictly confidential.

“All concerned citizens are encouraged to give us any relevant information that could assist the security agencies in apprehending the masterminds behind these heinous crimes of kidnapping and banditry in the state,” he said.

He urged anyone with useful information to contact the command headquarters or call the following numbers: 07015142112 08023871144. (NAN)

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