By; Landing Ceesay
Sidat Fofana, the Programme Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization [EPI] at the Ministry of Health said One-hundred and fifty-four thousand, two-hundred and six (154,206) Gambian girls will benefit from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer vaccination this year.
“We have vaccinated Thirty-four thousand, and eight-hundred (34, 800) girls for the first dose of Human Papilloma Virus. And this year (2021), we are targeting 154,206 girls for both the first and second dose. The first dose will be for those who were not vaccinated, and the second dose will be for those who were vaccinated before the emergence of Covid-19.”
He made this statement on Wednesday while addressing the press at the Central Medical Store in Kotu, on the HPV vaccination programme.
Mr. Fofana continued that they tested the HPV vaccine to know how it impacts the people economically, logistically and socially before the roll out.
“This is not the first time we are giving HPV in this country. We did the demonstration to know how it impacts on us economically, logistically and socially, so that by the time we roll it out, we will have the chance to solve all the problems.”
Sidat added that although it was planned, but they couldn’t carry out the campaign in 2020, due to the emergence of Covid-19.
“We were all confused and disrupted, every aspect of life when covid-19 hit us. So, we had to take our time and organize ourselves because the schools were also closed. That’s why it took sometime before we finalized everything.”
The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) is the vaccine that will be implemented in schools across the country, for girls in the 3rd grade, and girls aged 9 to 14 out-of-school. Those out of school are encouraged to visit schools on vaccination days to get their dose.
Meanwhile, Cervical Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, which usually starts on the surface. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, located at the upper end of the vagina. While, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer.
It is a common virus easily spread by skin contact during sexual activity with an infected person.
Reports have shown that annually, 569,847 new cases are diagnosed and 311,365 die from it globally. Over 85% these cases occur in developing countries. In the Gambia, the primary cause of cancer deaths among women accounts to 32% of all cancer in women, and12% prevalence of HPV infection (2018).