Federal Government and GAVI Collaborate to Combat Cervical Cancer with HPV Vaccine Rollout

Nigeria is looking towards a future free from cervical cancer-related fatalities following the launch of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine by the federal government. With support from GAVI, doses of the HPV vaccine have been secured for the initial phase of vaccination in 15 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), targeting approximately 7.7 million girls aged 9 to 14.

The selected states encompass Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Taraba, and the FCT, while the remaining 21 states will follow suit in subsequent phases.

Cervical cancer stands as the second most prevalent cancer among women in Nigeria and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women aged 15 to 49. Dr. Faisal Shuaib, former executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), highlighted Nigeria’s contribution of an estimated 12,075 new cervical cancer cases globally each year. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, identified in 95% of cervical cancer cases, remains a high-risk factor.

GAVI has committed to supplying Nigeria with 22.3 million doses of the HPV vaccine between 2023 and 2025. Emily Kobayashi, Head of HPV Programme in GAVI, unveiled this commitment in Abuja, revealing that Gavi will provide eight million doses in 2023, 11 million in 2024, and 3.3 million in 2025.

Following the first phase’s implementation in 15 states and the FCT, the subsequent phase will encompass the remaining 21 states, aiming to launch the vaccine in the first half of the upcoming year. Kobayashi emphasized the importance of learning from the initial phase to effectively reach out-of-school girls in communities.

She highlighted the continuity of the vaccination program, targeting newly eligible nine-year-old girls annually, ensuring a consistent supply of the vaccine. Kobayashi affirmed GAVI’s commitment to provide yearly doses and support the procurement of vaccines through a co-financing agreement with the government.

The collaboration between the Nigerian government and GAVI signifies a sustained effort to ensure the availability and delivery of the HPV vaccine to combat cervical cancer across the nation.

“So what‘s very important about the HPV vaccines is that it is not about a one time campaign, it is not about just protecting the girls that are going to be reached over the next week or so, over the next year or so, HPV vaccine is about building a generation or community, it is about having adults, a whole generation of adults who are protected from HPV.”

“In countries who have introduced the vaccine, they have seen that there are remarkable protective effects not just on the people that were vaccinated but also the unvaccinated of similar ages so the commitment overtime is to make sure that there is a whole generation of new and protected adults is extremely important.”

According to her, HPV vaccine is most effective when it‘s given before somebody initiates a sexual relations and it has the highest impact when it‘s given to girls because of the link to cervical cancer and because Cervical cancer is such a common and prevalent type of cancer.