The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) reported that 12,075 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually in the country, resulting in 7,968 fatalities from the disease,leadership reports.
Dr. Joseph Urang, the state immunization officer at NPHCDA, disclosed this information during a recent media dialogue on Care for Small and Sick Newborns, Oxygen Availability, and the Introduction of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine in Nigeria. The event was organized by UNICEF in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
Cervical cancer emerges from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the cervix and is identified as the second most prevalent cancer among women in Nigeria, particularly ranking as the second most frequent cancer among women aged 15 to 44.
Dr. Urang emphasized that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is accountable for approximately 95 percent of cervical cancer cases. He highlighted that globally, HPV is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), affecting an estimated 80 percent of sexually active individuals at some point in their lives.
While noting that most HPV infections are asymptomatic, Dr. Urang explained that about 90 percent of infections clear within two years. However, some infections persist, and if they continue, they can progress to cervical cancer, especially with specific types of HPV like types 16 and 18. This progression, on average, takes 20 years and typically manifests symptoms only in the advanced stages of cancer.
In a recent development, the federal government has initiated HPV vaccination in 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). NPHCDA data reveals that Lagos has the lowest HPV vaccination rate at 31 percent, while Taraba, Akwa Ibom, and Nasarawa boast the highest rates at 98 percent, 97 percent, and 93 percent, respectively.