Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) has lent her voice to the current nationwide awareness programme for the forthcoming Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination by taking messages about the HPV vaccine to four schools in Makurdi, the Benue State capital to help combat the cervical cancer scourge that claims the lives of nearly 8000 women in Nigeria every year.
The ESLF team which comprised of medical doctors, development workers and other health experts visited St. Joseph Primary School, Nyiman, U.B.E. Junior Secondary School, Nyiman, Holy Family Primary School, Kanshio and U.B.E. Primary School, Kanshio with messages about the forthcoming HPV vaccination which is targeted at girls of between ages 9 to 14 across Benue State in particular and Nigeria in general.
Speaking during one of the sensitisation sessions, World Health Organisation (WHO) Consultant on HPV, Dr. Winifred Uzoamaka Onodu commended ESLF for blazing the school sensitisation trail by embarking on the awareness campaign about the all-important HPV vaccination to school children and commended the former First Lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom for her health interventions.
She assured that the vaccine was safe and would be freely administered by the Federal Government of Nigeria as from 24th October, 2023 but cautioned the children against early and pre-marital sex which she pointed out would predispose them to HPV which is a sexually transmitted infection.
On her part, a healthcare professional on the ESLF team, Dr. Comfort Abaa explained that the work of the vaccine helps to boost immunity of the body against HPV and prevent the infections that might lead to the deadly cervical cancer.
She said, inspired by genuine concern and care for the girls, ESLF moved to complement the effort of the Federal Government by taking the awareness programme to schools and encouraged the girls within the stipulated age range to avail themselves of the opportunity to be vaccinated in October.
In their separate contributions, Dr. Anita Ejideh, Mrs. Rachel Ityonzughul and the Health Thematic Lead of BENGONET, Mrs. Shimenenge Kyaagba who dwelt on the debilitating effect of cancer and the high cost of maintaining infected persons, admonished all to take preventive measures against the virus such as immunization, pap smear screening for women of age 25 and above.
Allaying some concerns raised about the vaccine, Mr. Michael Luka of John Snow Incorporated (JSI) reassured of its safety and advised that in rare cases of minimal side effects, HPV referral centres in various hospitals across the State would be on hand to address any such challenge.
Speaking earlier, Coordinating Programme Officer, Health of ESLF, Karen Yankyaa said ESLF intervenes in Health, Education and Research, Governance and Economic Empowerment with a bias to Agri-business and Environment. She admonished people to shun drugs and protect themselves against all forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
In their separate responses, Vice Chairman of the Parent Teachers Association of St. Joseph Primary School, Nyiman, Mr. Daniel Ekpa and Assistant Head Teacher of the School, Moses Tsetim commended ESLF for finding their school worthy of such intervention and promised to step down the message to others.
Appreciating the team, 11-year-old Monica Ede of Primary 6 and other pupils said the health talk on HPV vaccine was an eye opener and had boosted their knowledge about the causes, prevention and cure for the deadly cervical cancer disease.
Since inception in 2016, ESLF has carried out health awareness programmes to tens of thousands of persons in various locations across Benue State and thousands more beyond the Benue borders through its various online platforms including eslffoundation.org.ng