By Stephen Ssenkaaba
After two years of a successful pilot, the stage is set for the implementation of a massive cervical cancer vaccination exercise in which young girls aged 9- 15 years old throughout the country will be vaccinated against the deadly disease.
According to Dr. Robert Mayanja, the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI) programme manager, plans to start the exercise are in high gear.
“We are kicking off the exercise in April next year with a countrywide sensitization exercise in which we shall train health workers and also talk to community leaders and politicians about the implementation strategy for this exercise,” Mayanja said. Vaccination will then follow in 2015. The exercise will be integrated in the immunization schedule of Uganda.
According to a UNEPI report, cervical cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in women and the 7th overall. In Uganda, says the report, it is the commonest cancer of women, accounting for over 80% of female cancers.
Cervical cancer patients occupied 87.5 of beds in Gynecological Oncology ward of Mulago Hospital from June 2011 to June 2012. It is a serious problem for Ugandan women as indeed other women, for which we need to find quick solutions,” Dr. Mayanja said in an interview.
This vaccination exercise will be one of the solutions. It will include school-going and non-school-going girls throughout the country, he added.
As part of the pilot, the vaccination exercise was initially conducted in 14 districts in which girls aged 9- 10 years were vaccinated.
“This exercise has gone well and has given us the impetus to roll out the campaign to the rest of the districts, Mayanja said. The exercise he said aims at promoting community participation by empowering parents, caretakers and communities to demand for the rights of their children for human papilloma virus (HPV) immunization services.