Nigeria, 16 others conducting effective HPV tests – WHO

Nigeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, and Malawi have been listed as African countries carrying out high-performance-based Human Papillomavirus screening tests in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.

Other African countries on the list are Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Technical Officer of Cancer Control at the WHO Africa Regional Office, Dr Sharon Kapambwe, disclosed this in an interview with PUNCH Online on Tuesday.

Kapambwe said, “Nigeria is one of the 28 member states that have introduced nationwide HPV vaccination to reach about 60 per cent of the priority population targeted with HPV vaccination.”

She disclosed that other countries on the list are “Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sao Tome and Principe.

“Others are Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.”

The Federal Government introduced the Human Papillomavirus vaccine into the routine immunisation system on October 24, 2023.

The vaccination targets over seven million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Pate, recently said over 4.95 million eligible girls aged nine to 14 years have been vaccinated against the HPV since the launch of the first phase of the vaccine in October 2023, across 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Pate said the second phase of the HPV vaccine introduction is scheduled for May 2024.

The vaccine is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18, which are known to cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

Also speaking on countries yet to immunised.the 60 per cent of the priority population targeted with HPV vaccination, Kapambwe noted that health systems are inadequately prepared to address the growing burden of cervical cancer with limited availability of population-based screening programmes, and inadequate access to treatment.

Other challenges, according to her are, “Shortages and uneven distribution of skilled and specialised human resources, insufficient domestic funding and donor funding; limited financial protection; high costs, as well as infrastructure and resource constraints, have been cited as barriers to the scale-up HPV testing; and limited awareness and knowledge combined with fear and stigma lead to delayed treatment and poor outcomes.”

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, Nigeria recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.

According to WHO, about 50 per cent of new cancer cases in adults in Africa are due to breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers, and if urgent measures are not taken, cancer mortality in the region is projected to reach about one million deaths per year by 2030.

Also, in 20 years, it said cancer death rates in Africa will overtake the global average of 30 per cent. This is more so because cancer survival rates in the WHO African region currently average 12 per cent, much lower than the average of over 80 per cent in High-Income Countries.

Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines

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