Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Enugu State Government has successfully introduced Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination into routine immunisation in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) facilities within the state.
The government had designated 10 PHCs in each of the state’s 17 council areas as facilities for administering the newly introduced HPV vaccine after a successful statewide campaign on the vaccination that lasted over a week.
The Executive Secretary of ENS-PHCDA, Dr Ifeyinwa Ani-Osheku, told newsmen in Enugu on Wednesday that the introduction as a routine immunisation followed successful conclusion of a comprehensive statewide HPV vaccine introduction campaign.
Ani-Osheku said that the groundbreaking statewide campaign on HPV vaccination, spanning five days with an additional three-day mop-up phase, introduced the life-saving Gardasil vaccine to young girls between the ages of nine and 14 in the state.
According to her, the introduction of the HPV vaccine in Enugu State was marked by a series of high-level pre-implementation activities that brought together various stakeholders, including religious, traditional, media and civil society leaders.
“These collaborative efforts culminated in a spectacular flag-off ceremony at Enugu State Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, on October 24, which was graciously performed by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah through the Deputy Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ossai.
“This historic day set the stage for a groundbreaking initiative that would improve the lives of countless young girls.
“This momentous campaign, which took place from October 24 to October 29, simultaneously covered all 17 Local Government Areas within Enugu State.
“The Gardasil vaccine, which has been in existence for over 17 years, has been scientifically proven to be both safe and effective in preventing cervical cancer.
“The vaccine has also received certification from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as safe and effective,” she said.
She noted that the state government demonstrated its commitment to this vital public health effort by being among the first states to promptly release the required counterpart funds as requested by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The executive secretary said that the state government’s dedication to the programme was further exemplified by seven council chairmen who organised simultaneous flag-off events in their respective areas.
She said: “Enugu State received a total of 244,707 vials of the HPV vaccine and, to date, has successfully vaccinated over 218,651 eligible young girls.
“The programme achieved a remarkable success rate, with over 66 per cent of the target population now protected against cervical cancer.
“In light of this remarkable success, the Gardasil vaccine has been seamlessly integrated into routine immunisation services, ensuring easy access at the PHC facilities across the state.
“These facilities can be found in various locations (PHC centres within the 17 council areas) to accommodate every resident, making the vaccine widely accessible to all at no cost and close to their doorstep.”
Ani-Osheku noted that the HPV vaccine remained free, safe and effective, adding: “I strongly urge everyone to dismiss baseless claims/misinformation by individuals who lack scientific evidence to support their allegations regarding the vaccine’s safety.”
She said that parental consent is of paramount importance before administering the vaccine to eligible girls, and therefore encourages all parents and guardians to participate actively in this life-saving endeavor.
“Enugu State has taken a significant step towards protecting the health and future of our young girls, and we remain committed to promoting overall well-being and public health.
“We extend our deepest gratitude to all stakeholders, healthcare workers, and the people of Enugu State for their unwavering support in making this initiative a resounding success,” she added.
The ENS-PHCDA is a government agency dedicated to improving healthcare delivery at the PHC level within Enugu State.
The ENSPHCDA is committed to providing quality and accessible healthcare services to the people of Enugu State and working towards the overall health and well-being of communities in each of the 17 council areas.