The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in an effort to reduce the prevalence of the human papillomavirus among women in Ghana, will roll out a vaccination campaign by the end of the year targeting pre-adolescents aged 9 to 14.
This nationwide vaccination aims to immunize adolescents before entering into sexual activity, given the alarming rate of cervical cancer.
Programmes Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kwame Amponsah-Achiano, emphasized 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.”
“While we were doing the piloting, we had to give three doses, then it came to two, and now we are talking of one, but the one dose is also premised on the fact that we need to have a well-established screening, but we are likely to do two doses because that is the best card put forward.”
According to the ICO/IARC Information Centre on HPV and Cancer, Ghana has a population of 10.6 million women ages 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Current estimates indicate that every year 2797 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1699 die from the disease. Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Ghana and the 2nd most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. Data is not yet available on the HPV burden in the general population of Ghana. However, in Western Africa, the region Ghana belongs to, about 4.3% of women in the general population are estimated to harbour cervical HPV16/18 infection at a given time, and 55.6% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18.