Mozambique Protects Girls Against Cervical Cancer Through HPV Vaccination


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter

Mozambique map

Map showing the location of Mozambique in Southeastern Africa



FRIDAY, MAY 03, 2024. In Mozambique, cervical cancer is a major health burden and is responsible for a third of all cancer cases among women. However, the country is making strides in protecting its young girls against this deadly disease through an ambitious human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program.


The initiative kicked off in 2021, targeting girls aged 9 to 14 years with two doses of the HPV vaccine, administered six months apart. Despite initial delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozambique has made concerted efforts to achieve high vaccination coverage.


"I was afraid of the needle but I knew that the vaccine was good for protecting our health against this disease, so that we can play, study, grow up and fulfill our dreams in the future," says 9-year-old Ana Sitoe, a student at Guava Primary School in Marracuene, Maputo, who has received her first HPV vaccine dose.


The school-based vaccination program has proven highly effective, complemented by strategies like door-to-door campaigns, mobile outreach and fixed facility vaccination to reach hard-to-reach girls.


According to the Ministry of Health, over 80% of eligible girls have received their first dose, and 40% have completed the two-dose regimen.


"It is easier to communicate the benefits to the girls, their families, the local community and local health professionals when you take the service to the target group," says Aissa Cutane, a public health technician at the Habel Jafar Health Centre in Marracuene, highlighting the advantages of the school-based approach.


Dr. Severin Ritter Von Xylander, WHO Representative in Mozambique, commends the country's progress, stating, "While the start of HPV vaccination experienced delays, the achievements in the last two years show political will and commitment to the global elimination targets. WHO will support the country to accelerate its actions so that we can eradicate the scourge of cervical cancer among women."


The vaccinated girls themselves have become advocates for the program, encouraging their peers to get protected. "We shouldn't be afraid of the sting from the needle. The vaccine is good and prevents HPV, so we'd rather grow up well and healthy," says Isabel Cossa, Ana's classmate.


Through this comprehensive vaccination drive, Mozambique is taking a significant step towards safeguarding the health and futures of its young girls, ultimately paving the way for the global elimination of cervical cancer.


Source: World Health Organization Newsroom.





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Published: May 03, 2024

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