Today, we commemorate the one year anniversary of the Global Strategy to Eliminate Cervical Cancer that was adopted and launched by the World Health Organisation on the 17th of November 2020.
It was also launched in Ondo State by the Office of the wife of Governor in collaboration with Foundation for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Political Appointees (FOWOSO), the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), and First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC) on this day last year.
The strategy, coded 90-70-90, implies that with this global strategy, the world must work to ensure 90% of girls are fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by age 15 years; 70% of women get screened with high performance test by 35 years of age and again by 45 years of age; and 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment.
Implementing the global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer is of utmost importance for us in Ondo State and Nigeria at large as the burden of cervical cancer is high. Every day, 41 women residing in Nigeria are diagnosed of cervical cancer most of which occurs at the late stage while another 29 women die each day as a result of cervical cancer complications.
This makes Nigeria rank among countries with the highest cervical cancer burden in the world.
The high level of cervical cancer and other non-communicable disease rates in developing countries like Nigeria follows simultaneously high incidence of numerous communicable diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and many others. Hence, countries like Nigeria have been tagged as countries with double pandemic – that is; countries where there is high level of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases.
Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), therefore the vaccination of girls against HPV remains the single most effective approach to eliminating cervical cancer as public health issue.
Unfortunately there is a global shortage of the HPV vaccine causing lack of access for us in Nigeria. Seeing that one year has passed since the launch of the global strategy the question remains; how far have we gone in our effort to eliminate cervical cancer? Surely we are yet far behind in the fight but we are sure that with renewed commitment from all stakeholders in ensuring better access to HPV vaccine, sustainable screening programs and adequate treatment measures, victory is within reach.
For us in Ondo State, we are very committed to ensuring the vaccination of every girl child in our State. Unfortunately, the inaccessible HPV vaccine global supply chain has posed as our greatest challenge in the past one year. However, we remain focused to ensuring equitable access to the HPV Vaccine in Ondo State.
The Office of the First Lady of Ondo State is working actively with the Ondo State Ministry of Health, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ondo State Hospital Management Board, Ministry of Women Affairs, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC) to promote qualitative cervical cancer care in Ondo State.
In few weeks, the State in collaboration with CHAI and WHO will launch the cervical cancer secondary prevention program where 5000 women will be screened with high performance cervical cancer test. Those found with cervical disease will receive adequate treatment. The cervical cancer secondary prevention program will be scaled to capture much more women after lessons from the pilot phase.
Indeed the elimination of cervical cancer is a fight for all and we must work together to achieve victory. As we all continue in our various social spaces today and beyond, let us all make conscious effort to spread the word of HPV vaccination. It is a safe and effective vaccine against cervical cancer that every girl child should receive.
Be the foot soldier in the fight to eliminate cervical cancer in Ondo State and Nigeria at large.
Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, Wife of Governor, Ondo State.