Editorial: Kudos to Ghana Health Service in fight against HPV

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is making efforts to reduce the prevalence of the human papilloma virus among women in Ghana. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many people with HPV don’t develop any symptoms but can still infect others through sexual contact.

According to a report by Citinewsroom yesterday, the GHS has announced that it would roll out a vaccination campaign by the end of the year, targeting pre-adolescents ages from 9 years to 14 years. This nationwide vaccination aims to immunise adolescents before entering into sexual activity, given the alarming rate of cervical cancer.

Programmes Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kwame Amponsah-Achiano emphasised the necessity of the two-dose vaccine for each child.

“Because we have already done a pilot which was to learn lessons, we will roll out a nationwide vaccination and our focus is usually on young people, before they start their sexual debut. So by the end of the year, we should have started the vaccination.”

Dr. Kwame Amponsah-Achiano added that during the piloting stage, the GHS had to give three doses, then it came to two and now one dose, which is premised on the fact that there should be a well-established screening exercise.

According to the ICO/IARC Information Centre on HPV and Cancer, Ghana has a population of 10.6 million women with ages 15 years and older, who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV and current estimates indicate that every year 2,797 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,699 die from the disease

These efforts are commendable and The Chronicle commends the GHS because this is a significant step forward in public health. Cervical cancer remains a grave concern in our country, with alarming rates of incidence and mortality. Therefore, such proactive measures are crucial in combating this preventable disease and safeguarding the health of the population.

The decision to focus on immunising adolescents before their sexual debut is strategic and well-founded. By vaccinating this age group, we can effectively prevent HPV infections before they occur, thus reducing the risk of cervical cancer later in life. This approach aligns with global best practices and reflects a commitment to preventive healthcare.

It is encouraging to note that the GHS has learned from previous pilots and is now prepared to scale up the vaccination campaign nationwide. The emphasis on providing two doses of the vaccine underscores the importance of ensuring comprehensive protection against HPV. While a single dose may be considered in the future, the priority now is to prioritise optimal immunisation protocols to maximise effectiveness.

However, it is essential to recognise that vaccination alone is not sufficient to address the burden of cervical cancer comprehensively. Alongside vaccination efforts, there must be a concerted focus on promoting cervical cancer screening and early detection initiatives. Screening programs can help identify precancerous lesions and facilitate timely intervention, ultimately saving lives.

Furthermore, public awareness and education campaigns are essential to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding HPV vaccination and cervical cancer. By empowering individuals with accurate information, we can enhance vaccine acceptance rates and encourage uptake among the target population.

We strongly believe that a sustained commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders are necessary to ensure the success and impact of these initiatives. Together, we can strive towards a future where cervical cancer is no longer a significant threat to the health and well-being of our nation.


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