Namibia fights cervical cancer with HPV vaccine in immunization program

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Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) held a crucial stakeholders’ meeting on Thursday to introduce the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls aged 9-14 years into the country’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI).

Speaking at the meeting, Taimi Amaambo, acting executive director of the MoHSS, underscored the urgency of introducing the HPV vaccine, targeting girls between the ages of 9 and 14, to prevent HPV-related cancers and genital warts.

“Namibia has been implementing an intervention package for cervical cancer prevention and control. A National Technical Working Group is in place with clear Terms of Reference that guide the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the National Cancer Control Plan, which encompasses strategic activities that include primary prevention, early detection, diagnostics, treatment, and palliative care of cervical cancer,” she said.

Namibia began the process of introducing the HPV vaccine into the EPI in 2018, which, by 2022, led to the MoHSS’s approval of including the HPV vaccine in the Routine Immunization Schedule for girls.

Amaambo highlighted the distinct challenge of introducing the HPV vaccine in Namibia, which involves innovative delivery methods, a different target population, and widespread communication due to its role in combating a sexually transmitted virus linked to common genital cancer.

To ensure success, she stressed the importance of widespread communication, including engaging leaders, teachers and parents, and using simple language to explain the vaccine’s significance to the people of Namibia.

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