Fresh call to extend Cervical Cancer immunization coverage

On 11 May 2021 at 05:10

Cervical Cancer is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in women and the eighth most commonly occurring cancer overall. There were over 500,000 new cases and over 311,000 deaths in 2018 as per figures from the World Health organization (WHO).

The majority of new cases were reported on African continent where 62 % 100,000 women and girls die every year due to failure to access health care.

All cervical cancers are associated with Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV). However, the majority of women with HPV do not develop cervical cancer. Women become susceptible to developing cervical cancer following HPV infection, but other environmental factors are required for the cancer to develop.

In developed countries, 90% of women and girls get cervical cancer vaccine against 10% in developing countries.

WHO shows that cervical cancer is mostly caused by sexually acquired Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) at 99%.

Despite the devastating effects and occasioned deaths, only 10 African countries have cervical cancer vaccines.

Rwanda is among few African countries that have rolled out vaccines against the cervical cancer at 97% attributed to implemented inoculation policies.

As Rwanda concluded the week dedicated to extending immunization coverage on 2nd May 2021; the Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije explained that Rwanda is proud of efforts expended to prevent cervical cancer.

He stated that Rwanda’s model has yielded big that many countries can learn from its initiatives to improve women’s health.

“Rwanda is proud of being the first African country to integrate cervical cancer vaccine into countrywide vaccination programme and taking lead towards efforts to prevent cervical cancer globally. As one of countries with advanced inoculation programs, Rwanda is ready to assist other countries seeking to emulate its model,” he said.

Mukul Bhola, the Chief Executive Officer of The Defeat-NCD Partnership at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) also stressed the need to extend cervical cancer vaccination to save girls and women.

“Extending HPV immunization coverage in developing countries to save women’s lives is gradually becoming imperative. To bridge the gap, we are collaborating with Islamic Development Bank to improve women’s health including the distribution of cervical cancer vaccines to country members,” he said.

Rwanda began countrywide cervical cancer inoculation programme in 2011 starting with girls in the age bracket between 12 and 15.

As per 2019 figures, WHO reported that immunization prevents 4-5 million deaths every year.

Immunization prevents deaths every year in all age groups from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), influenza and measles.

It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, however, if global vaccination coverage improves.

Rwanda is among few African countries that have rolled out vaccines against the cervical cancer at 97%.