Nigeria has started a widespread vaccination campaign against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in an effort to significantly lower the rates of cervical cancer.
The project aims to vaccinate 16.6 million girls between the ages of 9 and 14 by the end of 2025. HPV is known to cause certain cases of cervical cancer.
The Federal Government has incorporated the HPV vaccine into the standard immunization system, targeting over seven million girls in just one vaccination round—the biggest in the African region. Among Nigerian women, cervical cancer is the third most prevalent cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women aged 15 to 44.
In the beginning phase, a five-day comprehensive vaccination drive is taking place in schools and communities across 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The vaccine will soon be a standard part of the immunization schedule in healthcare establishments.
The Federal Ministry of Health is offering the vaccine free of cost, with support from partners like Gavi, UNICEF, and the WHO. Over 35,000 healthcare professionals have undergone training to ensure widespread vaccination coverage, even accessing distant communities via mobile vaccination units.
This initiative is anticipated to considerably lower the number of cervical cancer cases and protect the lives of Nigerian women.