Harare – Zimbabwe will start rolling out the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to be administered to girls aged 10 in two districts of Marondera and Beitbridge from next month as a pilot project to reduce deaths from cervical cancer.
Health and Child Care deputy Minister Dr Paul Chimedza said that the vaccination of the girls would also help improve the health and lives of women for generations to come.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the currently licensed vaccines be targeted at girls aged between nine and 13 years to prevent infection with the two types of human papilloma virus known to lead to about 70 percent of cases of cervical cancers.
The HPV vaccine targets girls before they become sexually active in order to prevent acquisition of the sexually transmitted infection.
The vaccination program, scheduled to run simultaneously in the two districts, will reach a total of 4 441 ten-year-old girls while another 4 490 girls will be vaccinated in 2015.
“Following thus, a nationwide roll-out will ensue in 2016 and cover all girls aged 9 to 13 years,” he said.
The two districts were chosen for national demonstration with Marondera representing the Shona ethnic group while Beitbridge represents the Ndebele.
Lessons to be learnt from the 2014 and 2015 rounds of vaccination in the two districts will be used to inform the national roll-out of the vaccination programme scheduled for 2016.
Last month, South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi launched the vaccine in the country. Fifty-four pupils from Gonyane Primary School in Bloemfontein were among the first group of girl learners in the country to get vaccinated against HPV.
The Grade 4 learners, aged between nine and 10 years, were beneficiaries of the country’s HPV vaccination campaign, which is targeting to vaccinate about half a million girls against the virus.
Cervical cancer caused by sexually transmitted HPV is the second most common cancer in women worldwide and results in some 274 000 deaths each year. More than 85 percent of the deaths occur in women living in low and middle income countries, including Zimbabwe.
– SAnews.gov.za-NNN-NEW ZIANA