The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has issued a call to action, urging the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) to support the roll-out of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
This call comes alongside an emphasis on the potential life-saving impact the HPV vaccines can have on the futures of young girls in the region.
The executive director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib made this appeal during a meeting held in Abuja, which marked the third quarterly review meeting organized by NPHCDA. These meetings serve as a platform for NPHCDA and its partners to engage with traditional leaders, highlighting their role and responsibilities in enhancing primary healthcare delivery in their communities.
The meeting addressed two major topics of discussion. First, it recognised the remarkable progress made toward achieving a polio-free Nigeria, thanks to combined efforts at the national and sub-national levels. The country is on the brink of eradicating all forms of polio by December 2023.
Shuaib emphasised the need for accurate information dissemination regarding the HPV vaccine. He urged its promotion through community channels, educational institutions, and outreach programs. He pledged to collaborate with states’ primary health care development agencies to ensure a seamless rollout of the HPV vaccine, utilizing traditional platforms for information delivery.
The second major issue addressed was the ongoing Diphtheria outbreak, primarily centred in Kano but spreading across 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Shuaib highlighted that the outbreak had resulted in over 14,000 suspected cases, with a significant number of affected children aged 1 to 14 years.
He stressed the urgency of intensifying community mobilisation, raising public awareness and increasing the acceptance of vaccination services to combat the outbreak. He also emphasized the importance of adhering to non-pharmaceutical measures, including wearing facemasks, practising hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance to reduce the transmission of diphtheria.
Shuaib expressed gratitude for the support of the coordinating minister and acknowledged the efforts of the royal fathers in affected states for their community engagement and promotion of vaccination’s importance.
He called for redoubled efforts in educating communities about routine vaccinations and their crucial role in safeguarding public health. He reaffirmed his commitment to improving lives and expressed gratitude for the support and leadership of the coordinating minister of health and the NTLC patron.
The meeting also featured comments from the World Health Organisation’s deputy country representative, Alexander Chimbaru, who highlighted the unifying nature of health as a subject that can reconnect and unify the country. He emphasised the need for improved governance in health, involving all relevant stakeholders, from federal to state governments, community leaders, the private sector and others, to address the health needs of citizens and hold all parties accountable.
Chimbaru acknowledged the importance of the upcoming HPV vaccine launch in preventing cervical cancer and strengthening the health system. He urged the utilisation of this milestone to further engage with the health system and improve healthcare delivery for different population segments beyond childhood.
As the nation moves forward, it’s clear that engagement, governance, and a collaborative approach are key to addressing healthcare challenges and improving population health outcomes. The roll-out of the HPV vaccine serves as an important step in this journey.