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Sierra Leone introduces human papillomavirus vaccine to protect girls from cervical cancer

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  In a move to protect adolescent girls from cervical cancer the Government of Sierra Leone today introduced the human papillomavirus HPV vaccine into the routine immunization schedule and launched the start of a campaign to reach 153 991 girls with the vaccine The introduction of the HPV vaccine is one of the key strategies that the Government is implementing for the elimination of cervical cancer in the country The Ministry of Health and Sanitation MoHS with the support of Gavi the Vaccine Alliance Gavi the United Nations Children s Fund UNICEF and the World Health Organization WHO will administer vaccines against HPV nationwide through schools targeting 153 991 10 year old girls who will receive two doses each over a six month period Although the HPV vaccine provides a proven and safe tool to protect women and girls against HPV and cervical cancer risk global coverage rates among 15 year old girls remain low 15 with two doses on average The latest global immunization coverage data shows that only 12 of girls globally are receiving the crucial vaccine with immunization campaigns particularly disrupted by lockdowns and school closures The Government of Sierra Leone wholeheartedly welcomes the introduction of the HPV vaccination campaign and urges everyone to support ten year old girls to get vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer and its consequences for life his life said Dr Austin Demby Minister for Health and Sanitation Globally cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women with an estimated 266 000 deaths and 528 000 new cases each year About 85 percent of the global burden of cervical cancer occurs in low income countries According to the Sierra Leone Cancer Registry cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and number one among all cancers among women aged 14 44 with approximately 504 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2021 mortal Today s launch should be celebrated as a first step in protecting girls in Sierra Leone from cervical cancer and giving them a better chance to live longer healthier lives and reach their full potential said Thabani Maphosa Director General of Country Programs at Gavi the Vaccine Alliance Historically HPV coverage around the world but especially in low income countries where the burden of cancer is highest was already too low The pandemic and school closures have taken an additional toll Supporting countries to catch up and improve HPV coverage is a critical priority for Gavi moving forward and will require actions on both the demand and supply sides We look forward to working with our partners to achieve this goal The introduction of the HPV vaccine in Sierra Leone comes after several months of extensive planning led by the National Immunization Program of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation In 2014 a Gavi supported HPV vaccine pilot project was carried out in Bo district This pilot demonstrated the country s capacity and readiness to implement a nationwide school vaccination program However due to Ebola virus disease and COVID 19 outbreaks the MoHS had to postpone the nationwide introduction of the vaccine The introduction of the HPV vaccine is a welcome demonstration of collaborative efforts in Sierra Leone to support good health for all children Good health is a basic human right that all children in Sierra Leone should enjoy regardless of where they are in the country said UNICEF Representative Dr Suleiman Braimoh More than 55 percent of the 194 WHO member states have introduced HPV vaccination however in West and Central Africa the HPV vaccine has been introduced in only eight countries With today s launch Sierra Leone joins the group of regional pioneers introducing the HPV vaccine into routine immunization schedules as a key strategy to prevent cervical cancer mortality and morbidity We are in the era where no one should suffer or die from diseases that are preventable with the use of vaccines And as we make these life saving services accessible to safeguard the health of women and girls we are also contributing to empowering the individual the community as well as enhancing the nation s sustainable social and economic development says Dr Steven Velabo Shongwe WHO Representative in Sierra Leone We urge authorities and parents to ensure their girls are protected from the heartbreak of cervical cancer by protecting them against HPV at an early age Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in Sierra Leone The introduction of the HPV vaccine is a momentous milestone in protecting girls health and reducing the risk of future disease This campaign also provides an important opportunity to expand education and outreach to promote acceptance of cervical cancer screening and treatment services by older women Together with the launch of the HPV vaccine these services are essential to eliminate one of the most preventable cancers said Nadia Rasheed representative of UNFPA To ensure effective vaccine introduction Gavi supports the procurement and installation of 463 sets of solar refrigerators to help strengthen cold chain systems and ensure vaccines are kept at optimal temperatures during shipping storage and delivery to vaccination sites In addition 1 500 health workers have been trained to administer this life saving vaccine Gavi The Vaccine Alliance has worked with MoHS and the Government of Sierra Leone since 2001 to expand equitable access to immunization services for all children This support amounting to US 101 million to date has included the acquisition of vaccine doses and cold chain equipment including for COVID 19 as well as investments in health systems and technical assistance to support immunization routine the introduction of new vaccines and supplementation Campaigns Through MoHS leadership intensive awareness raising is being carried out at the community level to help increase public awareness of and uptake of the HPV vaccine focusing on the target age group of girls members of the community and leaders so that they are empowered and informed about the tools available to prevent cervical cancer With the support of partners a wide range of materials have also been developed to inform and answer questions girls parents and caregivers may have about this new vaccine
Sierra Leone introduces human papillomavirus vaccine to protect girls from cervical cancer

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Sierra Leone

In a move to protect adolescent girls from cervical cancer, the Government of Sierra Leone today introduced the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into the routine immunization schedule and launched the start of a campaign to reach 153,991 girls with the vaccine.

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The introduction of the HPV vaccine is one of the key strategies that the Government is implementing for the elimination of cervical cancer in the country.

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The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), with the support of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will administer vaccines against HPV nationwide through schools, targeting 153,991 10-year-old girls, who will receive two doses each over a six-month period.

Although the HPV vaccine provides a proven and safe tool to protect women and girls against HPV and cervical cancer risk, global coverage rates among 15-year-old girls remain low, 15% with two doses on average.

The latest global immunization coverage data shows that only 12% of girls globally are receiving the crucial vaccine with immunization campaigns particularly disrupted by lockdowns and school closures.

“The Government of Sierra Leone wholeheartedly welcomes the introduction of the HPV vaccination campaign and urges everyone to support ten-year-old girls to get vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer and its consequences for life.

his life,” said Dr. Austin Demby, Minister for Health and Sanitation.

Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women with an estimated 266,000 deaths and 528,000 new cases each year.

About 85 percent of the global burden of cervical cancer occurs in low-income countries.

According to the Sierra Leone Cancer Registry, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and number one among all cancers among women aged 14-44, with approximately 504 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2021 mortal.

“Today’s launch should be celebrated as a first step in protecting girls in Sierra Leone from cervical cancer and giving them a better chance to live longer, healthier lives and reach their full potential,” said Thabani Maphosa, Director General of Country Programs at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“Historically, HPV coverage around the world, but especially in low-income countries where the burden of cancer is highest, was already too low.

The pandemic and school closures have taken an additional toll.

Supporting countries to catch up and improve HPV coverage is a critical priority for Gavi moving forward and will require actions on both the demand and supply sides.

We look forward to working with our partners to achieve this goal.” The introduction of the HPV vaccine in Sierra Leone comes after several months of extensive planning led by the National Immunization Program of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

In 2014, a Gavi-supported HPV vaccine pilot project was carried out in Bo district.

This pilot demonstrated the country’s capacity and readiness to implement a nationwide school vaccination program.

However, due to Ebola virus disease and COVID-19 outbreaks, the MoHS had to postpone the nationwide introduction of the vaccine.

“The introduction of the HPV vaccine is a welcome demonstration of collaborative efforts in Sierra Leone to support good health for all children.

Good health is a basic human right that all children in Sierra Leone should enjoy, regardless of where they are in the country,” said UNICEF Representative Dr. Suleiman Braimoh.

More than 55 percent of the 194 WHO member states have introduced HPV vaccination; however, in West and Central Africa, the HPV vaccine has been introduced in only eight countries.

With today’s launch, Sierra Leone joins the group of regional pioneers introducing the HPV vaccine into routine immunization schedules as a key strategy to prevent cervical cancer mortality and morbidity.

“We are in the era where no one should suffer or die from diseases that are preventable with the use of vaccines.

And, as we make these life-saving services accessible to safeguard the health of women and girls, we are also contributing to empowering the individual, the community, as well as enhancing the nation’s sustainable social and economic development.”

says Dr. Steven Velabo Shongwe, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.

“We urge authorities and parents to ensure their girls are protected from the heartbreak of cervical cancer by protecting them against HPV at an early age.”

“Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in Sierra Leone.

The introduction of the HPV vaccine is a momentous milestone in protecting girls’ health and reducing the risk of future disease.

This campaign also provides an important opportunity to expand education and outreach to promote acceptance of cervical cancer screening and treatment services by older women.

Together with the launch of the HPV vaccine, these services are essential to eliminate one of the most preventable cancers”, said Nadia Rasheed, representative of UNFPA.

To ensure effective vaccine introduction, Gavi supports the procurement and installation of 463 sets of solar refrigerators to help strengthen cold chain systems and ensure vaccines are kept at optimal temperatures during shipping, storage and delivery.

to vaccination sites.

In addition, 1,500 health workers have been trained to administer this life-saving vaccine.

Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance has worked with MoHS and the Government of Sierra Leone since 2001 to expand equitable access to immunization services for all children.

This support, amounting to US$101 million to date, has included the acquisition of vaccine doses and cold chain equipment, including for COVID-19, as well as investments in health systems and technical assistance to support immunization.

routine, the introduction of new vaccines and supplementation.

Campaigns Through MoHS leadership, intensive awareness raising is being carried out at the community level to help increase public awareness of and uptake of the HPV vaccine, focusing on the target age group of girls, members of the community and leaders, so that they are empowered and informed about the tools.

available to prevent cervical cancer.

With the support of partners, a wide range of materials have also been developed to inform and answer questions girls, parents and caregivers may have about this new vaccine.

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