The Federal Government is yet to introduce the Human Papillomavirus vaccines into the national immunisation schedule, almost three years after it made the promise, The PUNCH reports.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, mainly transmitted through sexual contact, and most people become infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.

The World Health Organisation said two HPV types (16 and 18) are responsible for nearly 50 per cent of high-grade cervical pre-cancers, but vaccination against HPV and screening and treatment of pre-cancer lesions are cost-effective ways to prevent cervical cancer.

In his remarks at the flag-off event for the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme on March 16, 2020, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, promised that “in the next couple of months,” the Rotavirus and Human Papillomavirus vaccines would be introduced into the national immunisation schedule.

The PUNCH reports that on August 22, 2022, the government introduced the Rotavirus vaccine into routine immunisation to protect against rotavirus infections among children in the country.

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While the FG launched the Rotavirus vaccine 29 months after the promise, it has yet to introduce the HPV vaccines into routine immunisation, 35 months after the promise.

Responding to an inquiry from The PUNCH, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, was quoted to have said, “The HPV vaccine is to prevent HPV infection, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women in the country and globally. The planned introduction of the HPV vaccine into the country’s routine immunisation schedule for girls (at the age of nine) is on track.

“An introduction proposal was submitted to GAVI, and the country has received provisional approval to introduce the vaccine in Quarter 3, 2023. The pre-introduction activities have already commenced. The introduction is going to be phased and completed in 2024, and then run as routine immunisation in the country.”

Speaking with our correspondent, an oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof Francis Durosinmi-Etti, the vaccines should be introduced and made widely available in the country.

“This will help save many lives. It is not too much for the government to integrate it into routine immunisation in the country. It is the only way we can move forward, that is what they do abroad and in some other African countries,” Durosinmi-Etti said.

By Vision

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