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Pathfinder to Enhance HPV Vaccine Awareness and Uptake in Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria, February 7, 2024—Pathfinder will contribute to the prevention of cervical cancer in Nigeria’s Kano, Lagos, and Kaduna states through a newly awarded project: Enhancing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Awareness and Uptake in Nigeria. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Over the next two years, Pathfinder will collaborate with the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Cancer Society, and government agencies to launch an advocacy, community outreach, and communication campaign related to cervical cancer prevention. The campaign seeks to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine, awareness about cervical cancer, and use of self-care practices. As recommended by the World Health Organization, the HPV vaccine is primarily meant for girls ages 9-14, before initiation of sexual activity.1 The project will support vaccination of in-school and out-of-school adolescent girls. The project will seek to increase trust of the vaccine among communities to ensure eligible adolescent girls receive vaccinations.

“The introduction of the HPV vaccine into the Nigeria Routine Immunization Schedule is a giant step in promoting the health of girls and women,” said Dr. Sakina Amin Bello, Senior Program Advisor, Pathfinder Nigeria. “We are honored to work with governments, at both national and state levels, and our local partners in giving girls ages 9-14 years the lifesaving HPV vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer.” HPV is the cause of almost all cervical cancer cases. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women ages 15-44 in Nigeria, with over 12,000 cases diagnosed annually. It is estimated that about 3.5% of women in Nigeria have a cervical HPV-16/18 infection at a given time, and 66.9% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18.2 Among women ages 25-49 in Nigeria, cervical cancer screening rates are low, with 14% ever tested, 11% tested in the last five years, and 8% tested in the previous three years.

The project will draw from Pathfinder’s experience implementing Accelerating Equitable Access, Acceptance, and Uptake of COVID-19 Vaccine (ACCESS) Project in Kano and Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory.

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