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WHO and MOH launch HPV Vaccine Awareness

The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Liberia, has launched an awareness campaign on HPV Vaccine for Cervical Cancer.

By Naneka A. Hoffman

Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia, April 2, 2024 – The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, has launched HPV vaccine awareness in World Health Day celebration activities.

Speaking over the weekend at the launch held at the F-Sham of Faith Girls School in Soul Clinic, Paynesville, W.H.O. Representative Dr. Peter Lugala Clement noted that just as during the Covid-19 pandemic when the whole world came together, it should remain united in educating people about this vaccine.

He explained that the global development agenda requires that by 2030, child health should have been prevented and maternal death reduced.

Dr. Clement added that to achieve this, health services must reach everyone in health for all, adding, “All of us must accept health service.”

He said World Health Day is the World Health Organization’s birthday, founded on April 7, 1948.

He revealed that the Organization turned 75 last year, stressing that under this year’s theme, “My Health, My Right,” every child has the right to health.

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Dr. Peter said he expects the W.H.O., the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health to work together to protect the youngest population.

However, he underscored that, along with Health and Education, young people should have opportunities to become active citizens in the future.

Delivering the keynote address, Grand Cape Mount Senator Dabah M. Varpilah, stressed the need for carrying out the initiative in all parts of the country. She said every Liberian must have access to preventable, curative and rehabilitative health care.

Senator Varpilah explained that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and continues to disproportionately impact women and their families in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), according to W.H.O.

She added that the HPV vaccine is available in most health facilities in Liberia and encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated, saying, “It is cheap, safe, and effective.”

She said the theme of this year’s World Health Day, “My Health, My Right,” resonates profoundly, “particularly when we consider the critical role of HPV vaccination in safeguarding the health of our future generation, you, the young women of Liberia.” 

According to her, cervical cancer is a silent predator, claiming the lives of countless women worldwide each year.

 In Liberia alone she noted that the toll of cervical cancer is overwhelming.

The Grand Cape Mount Senator noted in in 2023, 656 more were diagnosed with the disease and tragically 469 women lost their lives.

 But she said despite the danger cervical cancer poses, the good news is that it can be prevented with a powerful weapon – the HPV vaccine.

 “The HPV vaccine stands as a beacon of hope in our fight against cervical cancer. It is safe, effective, and cost-effective to prevent this disease.”

She mentioned that the World Health Organization has implemented a Global Strategy to eliminate cervical cancer, and countries, including Liberia, have an obligation to realize it. The strategy, she added, recognizes the importance of HPV vaccination and has recommended it for every girl aged 9-14.

Senator Varpilah said Liberia is resolute in its commitment to this cause with the support of valued partners, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and GAVI, to achieve targets set by 2030.

She stated that the aim is to vaccinate 90% of girls by the age of 15, ensure 70% of women between 35 and 45 receive regular checkups for cervical cancer and ensure that 90% of women with the cervical disease receive treatment.

These targets, she noted, align seamlessly with the government’s “ARREST” agenda, which seeks to improve healthcare access and outcomes for all Liberians.

Also speaking, Dr. Cuallau Jabbeh Howe, Director of the External Aid Coordinating Unit at the Ministry of Health, thanked W.H.O. for the support and pledged the Ministry’s commitment to working with partners to fight cervical cancer in Liberia. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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