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Scale-up of HPV vaccination, flagged off

Health Minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye vaccinates adolescent girls

By Cassim Kaggwa-Ddumba

Over 500 ten year old girls were recently vaccinated with HPV vaccine to protect them against cancer of the cervix to symbolize the flag off of the national scale up of the exercise.

The girls were vaccinated Bwera Secondary school in Kasese district at the event officiated by Health Minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye. 

Cancer of the cervix is the most common reproductive health cancer among women in Uganda accounting for up to 40% of all cancers recorded in Kampala cancer registry and for 80% of all female cancers.  In addition, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death among women with cancers in Uganda.

In his speech Tumwesigye informed the gathering that, cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, spread mainly through sexual contact. The main risk factors for the disease include first sexual intercourse at an early age, multiple sexual partners, presence of other infections and a weakened body immune system. Cervical cancer progresses slowly and can take up to 20 years.

He also informed the public that the primary prevention mechanism for cervical cancer is vaccination with two doses of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine given at a 6 months interval to ten year old girls.

Tumwesigye appealed to parents and care takers, to continuously remind the young girls that abstinence, in addition to vaccination is still a very effective strategy to prevent cancer of the cervix as well as other sexually transmitted infections.

The Director General of Health Services Dr. Jane Aceng assured the public about the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine which is to be administered by trained health workers free of charge in all public and private health facilities providing routine immunization services.

The Health minister being a medical doctor, gave an HPV injection to a 10 year old girl as part of the HPV vaccination flag off event. The scale up exercise follows a successful pilot of HPV vaccination in Ibanda and Nakasongola districts that resulted into scaling it up to another (12) set of districts.

From now on, the HPV vaccination is part of the routine immunization programme covering the whole country. UNICEF is supporting government through the Ministry of
Health to introduce the HPV vaccine and roll it out into the routine immunization schedule.

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus that is spread through sexual contact, the HPV vaccination targets young girls 10 years old because it is assumed that they are not yet exposed to the Human Papiloma Virus as they not yet engaged into sex, which is the main HPV mode of transmission.

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