JSI, Kogi NPHCDA solicit media support on HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer By Stephen Adeleye

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An NGO, John-Stow International (JSI), in collaboration with Kogi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (KSPHCDA) have solicited media support to accelerate Human Paplomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that HPV Vaccine Acceleration Programme Partners Initiative (HAPPI) project is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with technical support from JSI.

Speaking at a media roundtable on Tuesday in Lokoja, the State Mobilisation Officer (SMO), KSPHCDA, Mrs Abo Amodu, urged media practitioners to help sensitise the populace on HPV vaccination for the girl child.

Amodu said that though the HPV vaccine was initially difficult to get, but it had been made available by the government and its donor partners.

In his remarks, the Focal Person for Social Behavioural Change, JSI, Kannah Ibrahim, implored participants to use their various media platforms to create awareness on HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer.

Ibrahim said that researches showed that more than 600,000 women were affected by cervical cancer worldwide in 2020, out of which over 50 per cent lost their lives.

He said that 90 per cent of those diagnosed with cervical cancer were women living in developing countries, such as Nigeria.

Ibrahim said that the objective of HAPPI was to accelerate HPV vaccine access and coverage, increase and sustain equity; programme equality; impact; restore and maintain HPV vaccination.

The focal person said that the targeted population were girls between the ages of 9 to 14 years old, since the campaign started in 2023

He disclosed that 16 states had been covered in HPV vaccination in the first phase, while the second phase would cover the remaining 21 states, including Kogi.

Ibrahim said that the HPV vaccination would kick-start in Kogi on May 27, across the 21 local government areas of the state.

“We will be engaging stakeholders such as traditional rulers, religious leaders; schools; out-of-school girls; and community engagement (in hard-to-reach areas), to ensure effective implementation of these vaccines in Kogi and Nigeria in general,” he said.

In her presentation, with the title: “Understanding the Cervical Cancer Disease Burden In Nigeria”, a Consultant with KSPHCDA, Dr Mary Alexander, said that cervical and breast cancers remained the most common among women in developing countries.

Alexander said the HPV vaccine would provide long lasting protection against HPV infections and associated diseases, urging upthe targeted beneficiaries to take advantage of it.

She stressed that the uptake of the vaccine would help stabilise the immune system to fight the virus, as early vaccination would help protect girl child against cervical cancer.

On her part, the JIS Consultant, Mary Okpodu, who presented a paper on “Ethical Reporting On Cervical Cancer”, urged the media to adhere to moral principles, professional standards, and social values in their reportage.

Okpodu urged journalists to always present responsible information with practical blueprint, and maintained journalistic integrity and accountability.

“Let us see how best we can make the HPV vaccination work in using our various media platforms to prevent cervical cancer.

“We must own the process through thorough sensitisation and mobilisation,” she said. (NAN)


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