Aiyedatiwa flags off HPV vaccine, assures children of protection

By Kemi Olatunde & Adedotun Ajayi

Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has flagged off the administration of the Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer among girls between ages nine and 14 in the state.

Speaking at the flag off during the 2024 National Children’s Day Celebration held at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Arcade in Akure on Monday, with the theme; “Building a brighter future for children”, the Governor re-emphasised his administration’s dedication to building a brighter future for children.

Pix: Ayodele Suberu & Stephen Olajide

He said his government is totally committed to the welfare, education and protection of children.

A 14 year old student of St Louis Girls Grammer School, Akure, Sutalaunmo Greatness, was the first to receive the vaccine in the state.

According to him, a lot of women has lost their lives to the disease praying that the vaccine prevents Ondo State children wholly from cervical cancer.

Aiyedatiwa congratulated the children on their special day and stressed the collective responsibility to equip children with necessary tools, opportunities, and guidance to ensure their success and the envisioned brighter future.

The governor announced the state’s initiative to recruit a large number of teachers to address the gaps created by the mandatory retirement of qualified teachers in both public primary and secondary schools. This move aims to strengthen the education system and ensure that children receive quality education.

Aiyedatiwa also said the reactivation of the School Shuttle Programme was aimed to alleviating the financial burden on parents by providing transportation for students, thus ensuring that economic challenges do not hinder their education.

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He added the state government has paid the WAEC registration fees for all students in public secondary schools to remove financial barriers to their academic progress.

The governor further said the recent efforts to recruit more health workers was to address the shortage of medical personnel exacerbated by the ‘japa’ syndrome.

Governor Aiyedatiwa condemned the violence and sexual exploitation faced by many children and reaffirmed the government’s dedication to fighting these inhuman practices. He assured the audience that the state will continue to support the Family (Children) Courts and other institutions dedicated to protecting children’s rights, and prosecute those who abuse children.

The governor expressed gratitude to security agencies for their collaboration with the government and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development on child protection matters. He urged them to continue their efforts and assured that the ministry will be empowered to coordinate the activities of all stakeholders involved in child protection.

Addressing teachers, the governor encouraged them to be models of moral excellence and protectors of children’s rights. He thanked them for their dedication and care.

Aiyedatiwa charged the children to remain vigilant and security-conscious, avoid bad company, and report any suspicious activities to their parents or teachers. He also reminded the audience of the upcoming gubernatorial election in November and urged political parties to conduct their campaigns peacefully and lawfully, emphasizing that no one’s blood is worth the election.

Giving a talk earlier on the HPV vaccine, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Ajaka, explained that the vaccine which aimed at preventing cancer of the cervix was flagged off during the first phase of the exercise in October, 2023 in 16 states of the country, adding that Ondo State is among the 29 states in the second phase of the exercise.

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He described cervical cancer has the second highest killer after breast cancer in women, stating that its consequences includes rejection by family, stigmatisation, financial burden (as it is expensive to treat) and death among others.

He called on all to disregard myths and misconceptions about the vaccine, assuring them of its safety and effective in girls.

Also speaking, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Deaconess Lola Fagbemi charged all and sundry to be committed to providing access to quality education for children in line with the vision of the Governor Aiyedatiwa’s administration.

Speaking on the theme, building a brighter future for children, she admonished the children to remember that they hold the power to shape the future, adding that they should dream big, work hard, and never doubt the incredible potential that lie within them.

Speaking with The Hope, Coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the state, Dr. Dele David Sunday, described the exercise as very important which according to him has assisted the state in mobilisation for effective take off of the vaccine.

Director, Disease Control and Immunisation, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Victor Adefesoye, while speaking with The Hope stated that there had been prior sensitisation of stakeholders including parents and teachers to prepare ground for the vaccination, calling on all to support government in ensuring that targeted girls are well captured in the state.

State Coordinator, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Mr. Adetunji Adeoye, in an interview with The Hope stated that health workers have been trained for the exercise.

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He called on parents to present their girls between the age range for the exercise, noting that health workers will visit schools, market places among others to vaccinate the target group.

Highlight of the ceremony included march past, drama and song presentation by the students who were drawn from the 18 local government areas of the state.
St. David’s Primary School, Akure, Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure, Police School, Akure and Police Secondary school, Itaogbolu won the march past for primary, secondary and military sections respectively, while School for the Physically Challenged, Ikare Akoko won that of the Special School Category.

Aiyedatiwa flags off HPV vaccine, assures children of protection

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