HPV vaccine: NAWOJ, UNICEF, others intensify campaign on immunisation

By Tola Gbadamosi

Determined to ensure that the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV and the newly introduced vaccine to end cervical cancer among women in Nigeria become effective, stakeholders have advocated for increased media awareness to fight the scourge.

They made the call in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state at a-one day advocacy meeting on HPV vaccine with members of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, Southwest B Zone.

The programme, organized by the Oyo state ministry of information and orientation in conjuction with UNICEF had participants drawn from the six Southwest states namely, Ondo , Osun, Oyo, Ogun , Ekiti and Lagos State.

In a welcome address, The Health educator, Oyo state primary health care development board, Mr Samuel Olarinde hinted that sixteen states had benefited from the vaccine noting that Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti state would have their own share starting from this month.

Mr Olarinde explained that the HPV vaccine would be administered on girls from age nine to fourteen in the first round after which the vaccine would now transit into full routine and available in all primary health care centres in states.

He however appealed to women under age 35- 45 year to always go for cervical screening to know the status of their cervix and for prompt medical attention in case any abnormal growth is discovered.

The programme director, Oyo state Ministry of information and orientation, Mr Rotimi Babalola while appreciating all participants for their huge sacrifice, said the program was meant to encourage media professionals to improve on their awareness campaign about HPV, with a view to disseminating accurate information on the virus and the vaccine.

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In a goodwill message, the NAWOJ Vice President, B zone, Comrade Adeola Adekunle appreciated Oyo state government and UNICEF for the timely training, assuring them of more collaboration.

Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, The monitoring and evaluation officer, Mr Sola Olanipekun posited that the aim of the training was to impart more knowledge in the media personnel to enable them to give all needed information about the HPV vaccine so that people could make decision that would safeguard their health, regarding the issue of cervical cancer.

The social and behavioral change specialist for UNICEF, Mrs Aderonke Akinola Akinwole who spoke about the roles of female journalists in improving HPV vaccine trust and uptake, noted that the media were expected to provide correct, consistent, and continuous information on the scourge of cervical cancer and the effectiveness of HPV vaccines, Influence policymakers through advocacy reporting and human-centered storytelling to improve demand for HPV vaccines.

Mrs Akinwole added that female journalists should also educate the public by leveraging on regular channels of interaction with caregivers and adolescent girls, provide platforms for technical experts to contribute to conversations around promoted behaviours and debunk myths, misconceptions as well as misinformation about HPV vaccine.

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