World Health Organisation (WHO) Consultant on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Mrs. Winifred Uzoamaka Onudu has affirmed that the forthcoming vaccination to prevent HPV was being targeted at only girls of a certain age range (9 to 14) to ensure that the preventive purpose of the vaccine against cervical cancer is maximally achieved as this target population is considered yet to be exposed to sex through which HPV is usually contracted.
Mrs. Onudu made this known while addressing students and pupils of Olive Branch Schools Makurdi Benue State on Day 3 of the School-Based Awareness Outreach on HPV vaccine organised by Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF).
According to her, the vaccine which is injectable is safe and effective and would be administered on the upper left arm of the girls from 24th October to 29th October, 2023 in government-owned health centres across Nigeria as well as by a mobile unit that would move to targeted places in communities.
The WHO Consultant admonished the children to relay the message to their parents and thanked ESLF for the show of commitment to the HPV vaccine awareness campaign.
On her part, Dr. Goodness Amuta explained that cervical cancer which is one of the leading causes of death globally is preventable noting that prevention was not only better but far cheaper than cure.
She pointed out that people contract HPV when they engage in early sex – be it oral, vaginal or oral – and admonished children to “run away from sex” and all related behaviour that might pre-dispose them to sex such as drug and substance abuse, keeping bad company, illicit online exposures among others.
Responding to incisive and though-provoking questions from the children including David Ternenge of JS II, another health expert, Dr. Anita Ejideh confirmed that symptoms of HPV infection involves abnormal growth, bleeding, bad cough, warts on skin among others depending on the part of the body that got infected by HPV and added that there was no harm at all for people beyond the stipulated age limit of 9 to 14 to take the vaccine.
Facilitating a session on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and Drug Abuse, Coordinating Health Officer of ESLF, Karen Erdoo Yankyaa cautioned the children to avoid drug and substance abuse, pre-marital sex and all its attendant danger of Sexually Transmitted Infections like HPV. She encouraged schools to set up drug free clubs and sensitize children about SGBV adding that ESLF remains committed to serving humanity through its core thematic areas of Health, Governance, Education and Research and Economic Empowerment with a special focus on Agriculture and Environment.
Responding, Chairman of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of the School, Mr. Terser Amashegh admitted that the ESLF sensitisation on HPV had armed him with a wealth of new knowledge and appreciated the Foundation for sensitizing the children.
On her part, Dr. Comfort Abaa appreciated the management of the school and the PTA and urged them to help step down the HPV vaccination message to others.
The School-Based Awareness Outreach on Human Papilloma Virus is part of ESLF’s commitment to the service of humanity through health interventions and others.