7.7 Million Young Women Receiving Cervical Cancer Vaccination
The Federal Republic of Nigeria today announced the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunization system.
The west African country of Nigeria aims to reach 7.7 million girls aged 9–14 in a vaccination drive against HPV types 16 and 18 that cause most cervical cancer cases.
As of October 24, 2023, this is the most significant number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.
The second phase of the vaccination introduction is set to start in May 2024.
"The loss of about 8,000 Nigerian women yearly from a preventable (sexually transmitted) disease is completely unacceptable," says Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health & Social Welfare, in a related press release.
A five-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities will be carried out during the inaugural rollout in 16 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Federal Ministry of Health provides the vaccine for free through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners.
WHO recommends that HPV vaccination be included in the national immunization programs of countries where cervical cancer is a public health priority and its cost-effective and sustainable implementation is feasible.
The Lancet Oncology reported in September 2023 that African countries are home to 19 of 20 countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer.
However, global supply shortages have slowed Gavi-supported HPV vaccine introductions.
These supply issues are now easing thanks to years of market-shaping efforts to develop a more robust HPV vaccine market and the single dose recommendation.
The Gavi board recently approved revitalizing its HPV vaccine program with an investment of over US$ 600 million by the end of 2025. With the additional funding, Gavi and its partners have set an ambitious goal to reach over 86 million girls by 2025, aiming to avert over 1.4 million future deaths from cervical cancer.
The WHO currently supports a one-dose regimen of the HPV vaccine for certain people.
The WHO's vaccine advisors recommend updating HPV dose schedules as follows: one or two-dose program for the primary target of girls aged 9-14, one or two-dose plan for young women aged 15-20, two doses with a 6-month interval for women older than 21, and immunocompromised individuals, including those with HIV, should receive three doses if feasible.
As of October 2023, there are effective HPV vaccines that protect men and women against cancers caused by HPV. These approved vaccines include 9vHPV, 4vHPV, and/or 2vHPV.