Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Nigeria To Introduce HPV Vaccine, Routine Immunisation

Covax COVID-19 Vaccine

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has said it will soon introduce the human papillomavirus (HPV) into its routine immunisation (RI) programme.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this today, October 6, 2022, in Abuja, at the quarterly review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care Delivery (NTLC).

Science Nigeria reports that the HPV vaccines are vaccines that prevent infection by certain types of human papillomavirus. 

Available HPV vaccines protect against either two, four or nine types of HPV. 

All HPV vaccines protect against at least HPV types 16 and 18, which cause the greatest risk of cervical cancer. 

Ehanire said the country’s health indices in the northern part of the country show remarkable progress, especially in polio eradication and routine immunisation. 

“We will remain eternally grateful to your Eminence and all traditional leaders for this steady progress,” he said. 

The minister, however, said that the country is still not at optimal performance yet. 

“We still have a lot of work to do to achieve our collective goal of bequeathing a primary health care (PHC) system that is responsive to the needs of the people.

“We need to further strengthen our community engagement through your royal highnesses to ensure that our people, especially the most vulnerable, are protected by being fully vaccinated against polio, COVID-19 and other childhood diseases,” he said. 

According to him, for a disease like COVID-19, developing herd immunity without having a vaccine would be devastating.

The chairman of NTLC and Emir of Argungu, HRH, Alhaji Samaila Mera said that the spread of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) posed great concern. 

Mera said that the country must not relent in ensuring that it mobilises, educate and create demand for vaccines against all vaccines preventable diseases.

Also, he urged the Federal Government to do more in building the confidence of Nigerians. 

The WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo said it is necessary for the country to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19. 

Mulombo, who was represented by deputy country representative, Dr Alex Chimbaru said that this could only happen through vaccination across the country to prevent SARS-CoV-2. 

He said that the country must ensure to get to its achieved herd immunity goal of 70 per cent of its population by December 2022. 

Also speaking, the representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr. Eduardo Celades Blanco said that, although the country’s immunisation programme has improved, more needs to be done. 

“We know, in Nigeria, that immunisation uptake was affected and several immunisation campaigns to prevent children from vaccine-preventable diseases were cancelled or postponed. 

“As a result, we are now seeing disease outbreaks including, vaccine-derived polio virus. There is much work to do ahead of us. 

“With your leadership and support, I am certain that the country can do a better, healthier and peaceful future for our children,” he said. 

Blanco stated that every dollar invested in the country’s PHC has $16 in returns. 

Meanwhile, the executive director, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib said that the country has launched a SCALES 3.0 strategy. 

Shuaib said that the strategy is an intensive campaign focused on ramping up the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, childhood vaccines and other PHC services at public and private health facilities, and mass vaccination sites nationwide.

He said the aim is to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccinations to mitigate infections. 

“Our modest achievements to date, such as the eradication of the Wild Poliovirus (WV) and the steady progress we are making in RI and COVID-19 vaccination would not have been possible without the commitment and sacrifices of the NTLC.

“We need to further strengthen our community engagement as the risk of polio is still very much with us. 

“Apart from the fact that we are still contending with the challenge of cVPV2, the re-emergence of WPV in some African countries shows that all countries are vulnerable until the virus is eradicated worldwide.” 

Shuaib said this reinforced the saying that, as long as polio is detected anywhere in the world, every child everywhere is at risk.

Recall that the quarterly review meeting of the paramount rulers under the umbrella body, NTLC, said they are determined to continue with their role of mass mobilisation and community engagement to boost population immunity and improve health indicators in the region. 

Racheal Abujah
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