Borno government, WHO introduce HPV vaccine for routine immunization

The Borno state government with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has inaugurated the State Technical Working Group that will introduce Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine into the State’s Routine Immunization in second quarter of 2024

While inaugurating the working group in Maiduguri, the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Professor Baba Mallam Gana, explained the negative impact of the HPV infections in the communities should not be considered as mere virus as it leads to cancer.

“The negative impact of HPV infections on our communities is significant. The HPV is not merely a virus, but it is a leading cause of several cancers, including cervical cancer, which tragically claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of women worldwide each year.

“Additionally, HPV infections can lead to other forms of cancer affecting both men and women, underscoring the urgency of our collective response. Today marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing commitment to public health and disease prevention. With the introduction of HPV vaccines, we are not just combating a virus; we are safeguarding the health and well-being of future generations,” he said.

The WHO state coordinator in Borno state, Dr. Ibrahim Salisu, in his remarks thanked Governor Babagana Umar Zulum for giving the health sector the utmost priority, as demonstrated by the allocation of about 15% of the total state budget for 2024 to the health sector and pledged that WHO would continue to support the Ministry of Health and its agencies.

“We will continue to support the Ministry of Health, under the leadership of the Honorable Commissioner, Prof. Baba Mala Gana, and all the agencies and departments under the ministry.

“As you may be aware, vaccination is one of the most important public health interventions and constitute a cost-effective strategy to reduce both the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases.

“Recently, Nigeria, and indeed, Borno state, has recorded some improvements in the routine immunization coverage, which was accelerated by the introduction of new vaccines (Pentavalent, IPV2, Rotavirus vaccines etc.). This further strengthens the country’s efforts to reduce child morbidity and mortality and accelerate our progress towards achieving the SDGs”, he said.

Dr Salisu further restated the commitment of WHO to providing the required leadership, technical and financial support, and to strengthen the accountability framework as the state introduces the HPV vaccine into its immunization program.

Earlier in his welcome address, Executive Secretary, Borno State Primary Health Care Development Board, Professor Mohammed Arab, said he was confident that inauguration of the TWG is a pivotal milestone to address a formidable challenges posed by the HPV infection.

“The Inauguration of this TWG represents a pivotal milestone in our collective efforts to address the formidable challenge posed by HPV infections. With your expertise, dedication, and commitment, I am confident that we will chart a course towards comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

“The formation of this Technical WG underscores our recognition of the multi-faceted nature of the HPV challenge. We bring together experts from diverse fields, including public health, epidemiology, immunology, oncology, and health policy, to harness our collective knowledge and experience in pursuit of our shared objectives.

“It is believed the HPV vaccine would be prioritised so as to reach adolescents and young adults, the age group most vulnerable to HPV infection,” he said.