Ministry of Health and Population says it will roll out the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination in the country’s 28 districts next January to protect young girls from the virus that causes cervical cancer.
MoH senior public relations officer Adrian Chikumbe said in an interview on Thursday the ministry is currently finalising preparations ahead of the mass vaccination exercise.
“After we successfully conducted the pilot phase in Rumphi and Zomba districts, we planned to roll it out to other five districts but through the lessons learnt in the pilot phase, we decided to extend to all the districts.
“This meant that we needed to change the plan and redesign the project as we needed more time to mobilise resources for the cause since the funds intended for the five districts would not suffice for the whole country,” he said.
Chikumbe said so far, Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative Gavi) has pumped in $2.6 million (about K1.9 billion) while government is contributing resources in form of staff, vehicles as well as storage space for the vaccine.
Commenting on the outcome of voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) campaign on the reduction of risks of cervical cancer in women, Chikumbe said the campaign registered more success in lakeshore areas compared to other areas.
He said: “The outreach varies depending on districts. We have districts such as Nkhotakota, Salima and Mangochi that practise circumcision as part of their tradition and religion. It was no wonder that the campaign registered remarkable success because to them it was not a new concept.
“However, we have other districts where there was lower coverage because traditionally, they do not practise circumcision. Rumphi and Lilongwe fall in this category.”
Chikumbe further said the ministry and its partners will strengthen the VMMC campaign to ensure that more men in the country are reached out with the service.
The Ministry of Health piloted the HPV vaccine in 2013, targeting girls aged between nine and 13 in Rumphi rural and Zomba urban.
The aim was to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in protecting them against HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer in women.