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Cervical cancer: CSOs launch students’ vaccination champions in Oyo schools

Centre for Disaster Risk and Crisis Reduction (CDRCR) has inaugurated a campaign strategy tagged, “Students Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Champions” to create cervical cancer awareness amongst young girls.

The champions, who are young girls from 10 selected schools in Ibadan North-East Local Government Area (LGA), would further spread the importance of HPV vaccines.

The inauguration, performed in Ibadan on Friday, precedes a free vaccination exercise to run from Monday to May 31.

The free vaccination, says CDRCR Coordinator, Mr Kolawole Amusat, will prevent every girl-child, between nine and 14 years, from developing cervical cancer.

He said the initiative,
being implemented by International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) and Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL) in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), through a GAVI grant, aimed at providing a healthy and cancer-free life for every girl-child.

Amusat notes that the HPV vaccine protects against certain types of cancer, including cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus.

“The HPV vaccine works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the human papillomavirus.

“When a person receives the vaccine, their immune system recognises the viral proteins in the vaccine and produces a response that protects against HPV infections,” he said.

The guest lecturer, Dr Olajumoke Olalude, said human papillomavirus remained the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, causing more than 95 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

According to Olalude, a reproductive health specialist, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women globally and the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria.

“The high burden of cervical cancer is attributed to several factors, including poor access to HPV vaccination services, poor screening and low awareness among others.

“Cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed early and treated promptly,” she said.

Olalude said the main goal of the free vaccination, set to run in 21 states, would be to reduce morbidity and mortality of cervical cancer among girls, aged nine to 14.

Meanwhile, the Head, Child Protection Network Health Team, Oyo State, Mrs Agnes Tola-Winjobi, assured parents of the safety of HPV vaccines, having undergone extensive testing and clinical trials.

Tola-Winjobi noted that the rumours and misconceptions of severe side effects of the vaccines, resulting in terminal diseases, infertility and ineffectiveness, were false.

Similarly, the Health Educator, Ibadan North-East LGA, Mrs Naimot Salawu, assured parents that the vaccines would not affect their children’s fertility.

She noted that governments at all levels would not embark on any project expected to kill or maim the citizens they govern.

The students HPV vaccine champions were selected from Queen of Apostles Secondary School; Agugu High School; Solam Model College and Ode-Aje High School, among others.

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