Government has introduced the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization to the routine immunization programme and has targeted at least 331,000 14-year-old girls.

Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya announced this in a Ministerial statement to Parliament, Wednesday.

He explained that the immunization would provide immunity against the HPV, which is a sexually transmitted virus and leading cause of cervical cancer.

“I wish to inform the House that the Government of the Republic of Zambia in its relentless pursuit of universal health coverage has introduced the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine to the routine immunization programme. Mr Speaker, the vaccine provides immunity against the Human Papilloma Virus, which is a sexually transmitted virus and a leading cause of cervical cancer worldwide. The HPV is responsible for causing 99 per cent of all cervical cancers. It is a common virus that can infect both men and women. Zambia has one of the highest incidences of cervical cancer in the world. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Cancer Report 2018, about 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are seen every year in Zambia. Over 1,800 women die from cervical cancer every year,” Dr Chilufya said.

“And according to the Zambia National Cancer Registry, cervical cancer accounts for 24.8 per cent of all new cancer cases in the adult population registered annually in the country. Mr Speaker, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. It, however, requires a comprehensive national strategy, which includes Human Papilloma Virus vaccination, screening, and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions as well as effective management of invasive cancer that are spread to all parts of the body beyond the cervix. Until now, we had no national HPV programme, which is needed to reinforce the comprehensive cervical cancer control programme. The 2017-2021 National Cancer Control Strategic Plan and proposed introduction of HPV vaccine as one of the central pillars for both prevention and control of cervical cancer.”

And Dr Chilufya said the immunization is targeted to capture 331,000 14-year-old girls countrywide beginning June 24, 2019.

“Mr Speaker, in Zambia, we are targeting 14-year-old girls and we are targeting to vaccinate 331,000 14-year-old girls. We hope to target the girls before they become sexually active starting 24th June, 2019 in the current Child Health Week campaign. The introduction targets girls, aged 14, that are school-going as well as those that are in the communities and will be done during this Child Health Week for 2019. It will also be done at health facilities and designated outreach points,” said Dr Chilufya.