Togo Incorporates Human Papillomavirus Vaccination into Routine Immunization

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In a significant stride towards public health, the Republic of Togo has commenced the integration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunization program as of December 4th.

This strategic initiative, supported by various partnering organizations, aims to safeguard women from the HPV, a virus notorious for its association with cervical cancer, the second most fatal cancer affecting Togolese women, trailing only behind breast cancer. Togo joins the ranks of 27 other African nations that have already embraced the inclusion of the HPV vaccine.

Following nations such as Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and South Africa, Togo now seeks to immunize its children against the human papillomavirus, a known precursor to cervical cancer in women.

Although precise statistics are not yet available in the country, estimates provided by Togo’s Minister of Health, Moustapha Mijiyawa, suggest an annual occurrence of approximately 600 cases, with over 400 resulting in fatalities.

This renders cervical cancer the second deadliest cancer for Togolese women, trailing only behind breast cancer. The insidious nature of the disease, which often remains asymptomatic for extended periods, underscores the urgency of preventive measures.

In a concerted effort to combat this health menace, health authorities are proactively targeting young girls. Following successful pilot campaigns, the HPV vaccine is now incorporated into routine immunization, freely accessible from the age of nine across the entire nation, as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Togo. Given the initial high cost of vaccination, eligibility for the vaccine is currently limited to girls.

In addition to the vaccination drive, Togo and its collaborating partners are committed to intensifying awareness campaigns. Overcoming parental hesitancy, attributed partly to misinformation circulating on social media, remains a priority. International organizations underscore that cervical cancer is among the few cancers preventable through vaccination.

Dr. Landoh Dadja Essoya, a vaccination advisor at the WHO Togo office, acknowledges existing reservations, citing the influence of misinformation on social platforms. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the critical importance of vaccinating girls against HPV to shield them from the virus, pointing to promising outcomes reported in countries where the vaccine has been administered for several years.

Integrating the HPV vaccine into routine immunization represents a pivotal step in Togo’s commitment to public health, exemplifying its dedication to the well-being of its female population. As the nation embraces this preventive measure, it is poised to make significant strides in reducing the prevalence of cervical cancer and ensuring a healthier future for its citizens

Soukaina Sghir

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