School girls in four districts to be immunised against leading cause of cervical cancer

Ghana HPV launch

HPV vaccine launch ceremony in Dodowa, Ghana.
From left to right: Mrs Nana Oye Luthur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection; Her Excellency Lordina Mahama, First Lady of Ghana; Ms Sherry Ayitey, Minister of Health; Ms Martit Thomsen, Danish Ambassador to Ghana; Dr Mercy Ahun, Special Representative to GAVI Eligible Countries.
Photo credit: Ministry of Health/Ghana/2013.

Geneva, 4 November 2013 – Ghana’s Ministry of Health today announced that school girls in four districts in the Northern and Greater Accra regions will begin receiving vaccines against the leading cause of cervical cancer, with support from the GAVI Alliance.

The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency Lordina Mahama, spoke at the launch ceremony in Dodowa, along with Ghana’s Minister of Health, the Danish Ambassador to Ghana and Dr Mercy Ahun, Special Representative to GAVI Eligible Countries.

“Today is a great day for Ghanaians as we have the opportunity to improve and better the lot of our girl child who are our future mothers and the greatest resource for our development agenda,” said Her Excellency Mahama. “I call on all to ensure that every girl within these districts is fully immunised during the HPV vaccination campaign. It is unacceptable for any woman to die as a result of cervical cancer which is preventable.

Over 6,000 school girls in fourth grade (age 9) as well as out of school girls aged 9 to11 will receive the first dose of the HPV vaccine this week. The second dose will be given in one month’s time, followed by a third dose in six months.

“When it comes to immunisation, Ghana has been a pioneer, having simultaneously introduced vaccines against two leading child killers last year – pneumonia and diarrhoea,” said Dr Mercy Ahun of the GAVI Alliance. “By introducing the HPV vaccine, Ghana will protect young girls from one of the leading cancer killers of women in developing countries – cervical cancer. The harsh reality is that in developing countries screening and treatment for HPV are too often lacking, making the vaccine our best hope for prevention.

Ghana is the fifth country this year to introduce the HPV vaccine as part of the two-year HPV demonstration projects supported by the GAVI Alliance. Earlier this year, Kenya, Lao PDR, Malawi, and Sierra Leone introduced the vaccine. The demonstration projects give each country the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to put in place the systems needed to run national HPV programmes.

Globally, a woman dies from cervical cancer every 2 minutes. Of the 275,000 women who die of cervical cancer each year, more than 85% of them live in developing countries where access to screening and treatment is often limited.

By 2020, GAVI expects more than 30 million girls in over 40 of the world’s poorest countries to have been immunised with the HPV vaccine.

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