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Ghana steps up fight against cervical cancer

© UNICEFGhana/2013/Osei
The First Lady of Ghana, Mrs. Lordina Mahama being assisted to immunise the first girl.

By ISAAC OSEI

DODOWA, Ghana, 13 November 2013 - GHANA has taken a giant step towards preventing cervical cancer in the country. Young girls between the ages of 9 and 13 are going to benefit from a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization exercise that would protect them against the possibility of acquiring cervical cancer.

This came to light when the First Lady of the Republic, Mrs. Lordina Mahama officially launched the HPV vaccine meant for the immunization at Dodowa in the Ga Dangbe District of Greater Accra Region.

A report from the Ghana Health Service shows that about 2000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, and almost  1500 out of the total number die each year.

In her speech, the first lady said the northern and central regions of Ghana would also benefit from the HPV immunization project but on pilot basis because of the female adolescent reproductive behaviours in those regions.

“17 districts in the Greater Accra, Central and Northern Regions have been earmarked for the vaccination and all girls in primary class four and five in both public and private schools would be vaccinated against cervical cancer,” she noted.

It is estimated that Over 6,000 school girls in class four as well as out of school girls aged 9 to 11 will receive the first dose of the HPV vaccine in the first week of the project. The second dose will be given after one month of the first dose, followed by a third dose six months after the second vaccination..

Mrs. Lordina Mahama reiterated that the HPV vaccination is a prospect “to improve and better the lot of our girl child who are our future mothers and the greatest resource for our development agenda.”

GAVI Alliance, an organization that provides vaccines for immunizations worldwide is supporting the project with the HPV vaccines.
Ghana is the fifth country this year to introduce the HPV vaccine as part of the two-year HPV demonstration projects supported by the GAVI Alliance.

 Dr. Mercy Ahun, Special representative, GAVI  Eligible Countries, in her speech called on all to support in the fight against cervical cancer because “by introducing the HPV vaccine, Ghana will protect young girls from one of the leading cancer killers of women in developing countries – cervical cancer. The harsh reality is that in developing countries screening and treatment for HPV are too often lacking, making the vaccine our best hope for prevention.”

According to the Minister of Health, Hanny-Sherry Ayitey who was at the launch, it has been scientifically proven that with the right vaccine and approach, cervical cancer can be prevented.

She also stated that a committee will be established to monitor the effects of the vaccine after it has been administered.
The initial HPV Vaccine project is to educate and raise awareness on cervical cancer. The project will help in assessing the potential HPV vaccine delivery strategies for coverage, feasibility, acceptability and the cost in order to have a reference point for making decisions.

GAVI expects that by the year 2020, more than 30 million girls in over 40 of the world’s poorest countries would have been immunised with the HPV vaccine.

 

 
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