THE Health and Child Care ministry (MOHCC), with support from Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), is targeting to vaccinate more than 15 000 girls in 246 schools in Gutu in an effort to reduce cervical cancer related deaths.
BY HAZVINEI MWANAKA
The ministry is rolling out a nationwide human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programme targeting close to a million girls aged 10 to 14 years.
Teams comprising the Health ministry, MSF and Primary and Secondary Education ministry officials are conducting the vaccinations in Gutu schools.
Speaking on Wednesday at Kanongovere Primary School in Gutu West under Chief Serima, Mercy Makaudze-Mandizvo, a nurse mentor with MSF, said the programme was running for 10 days in Gutu.
“We have five teams that are visiting five schools per day. We actually collected registers from all the schools and we ended up having one database, which we are now using. The database has around 17 000 girls, so we are targeting 15 000 girls and above,” she said.
“For those who do not come to school on such days, we have planned, they go to the nearest health facility and the vaccines are already there and the nurses there are already trained and they will assist them.”
Makaudze-Mandizvo added that they had educated community leaders, including chiefs, councillors, village heads as well as the parents, teachers and headmasters on the importance of the vaccination programme.
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She said they had not yet received any reports of anyone, who has reacted to the vaccine.
“If we might have a case where a child reacts to the vaccine, we are prepared as we have an emergency kit,” Makaudze-Mandizvo said.
District medical officer, Tapiwa Mupepe said they had six health facilities that offer cervical cancer screening in the area.
“On average, we screen over 100 women per month. Women who are HIV positive are more likely to have cervical cancer though every woman is at risk. In 2017, 4 691 clients in Gutu received cervical cancer screening services,” he said.
Mupepe encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated, adding that women should go for cervical cancer screening.
Shaudzirai Vengedzai a mother from Mbengo village, Ward 38, in Gutu said she saw the vaccination programme as a good move.
“My daughter is 10 years old and I have allowed her to get vaccinated. We were told about the benefits, I also encourage other parents out there to take the programme seriously as we all benefit from it,” she said.
Cervical cancer, which is caused by persistent infection of the cervix from HPV, is one of the leading causes of death among women in developing countries. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections which cause about 90% of all cervical cancers.
Zimbabwe, in 2014 and 2015, piloted an HPV vaccination programme in Marondera and Beitbridge.