Panafrican News Agency

Uganda to vaccinate 700,000 girls against cervical cancer this year

Kampala, Uganda (PANA) – Uganda will vaccinate 700,000 ten-year old girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, an official of the body responsible for immunisation has said.

Dr Alfred Driwale, programme manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI), was addressing journalists in Kampala on Thursday as the World Immunisation Week, which is marked every year in the last week of April, kicked off.

He said the country is focusing on increasing the coverage of HPV vaccination countrywide, especially targeting schools. The vaccine is available at health centres for free.

 “Our target this year is at least 700,000 [ten-year old] children to be vaccinated with HPV,” Dr Driwale said, appealing to the legislature to make available more money so more children may benefit from the vaccination next year.

Girls are supposed to take two doses, with the second one given six weeks after the first dose for the vaccine to be effective.

Uganda has had a problem of girls taking the first dose and not returning for the second, with Health ministry figures indicating that only 41 percent of the girls who were vaccinated in 2017 returned for  the second dose. The figures don’t show a significant improvement for 2018, where 47 percent of the girls who took the first dose turned up for the second dose.

According to Uganda Cancer Society, the country’s cervical cancer burden stands at 45 per 100,000 women, much higher than the global figure of 15 women per every 100,000.

-0- PANA EM/AR 25Apr2019