ZIMBABWE yesterday launched a nationwide Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunisation programme targeting teenage girls, becoming the eighth country to roll out the exercise in Africa.
BY VANESSA GONYE
The week-long programme was launched in various parts of the country as part of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommended preventive measures against cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women with 99% of cases associated with HPV infection. Every year, 530 000 new cases are diagnosed with 275 000 women succumbing to cervical cancer.
Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa recently lamented the rising incidence of cervical cancer in women, saying there was need to vaccinate young girls before they indulge in sexual activities which increase the risk of contracting cervical cancer.
“The coverage objective for the campaign is at least 95%, mostly through a school-based programme, whereby, health care workers will vaccinate the school girls with support from the school health coordinators,” he said.
Over 85% of cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries.
It is estimated that by 2050, cervical cancer will have affected close to one million women, out of which 900 000 will be in developing countries. Globally, the incidence of cervical cancer is at 15/100 000 women, and is currently at 35/100 000 in Zimbabwe.
Annually, 2 270 new cases of cervical cancer are recorded in Zimbabwe with 1 541 associated deaths.