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Nigeria to introduce HPV vaccine into routine immunisation

The Ministry of Health will soon introduce the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), into its Routine immunisation (RI) system.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, at the quarterly review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care Delivery (NTLC).

He said Nigeria has met the condition for the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) to introduce the HPV vaccine.

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

Available HPV vaccines protect against 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:” looking back at the country’s health indices, the Northern part of the country has made 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.

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The minister, however, said that the country was 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), a 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 and COVID-19 and other childhood diseases,” he said.

He said that for a disease like COVID-19, developing herd immunity without having a vaccine would be devastating.

The Chairman of NTLC and Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mera, said that the spread of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type II (cVDPV2) was of great concern in the country.

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

He also urged the Federal Government to do more in building confidence in Nigerians.

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

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

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

Also speaking, the Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr Eduardo Blanco, said that the country’s immunisation programme had improved, stressing that more needed 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 better, healthier and peaceful future for our children,” he said.

Blanco explained that every dollar invested in the country’s PHC had 16 dollars in returns.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said that the country had launched SCALES 3.0 strategy.

He said that the strategy was 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 was 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.”

According to the NPHCDA boss, this reinforces the saying that as long as polio is detected anywhere in the world, every child, everywhere is at risk.

NAN reports that at the quarterly review meeting, the paramount rulers, say 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.

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