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Move to stifle cancer in adolescent girls

Ntsoaki Motaung

The Minister of Health Semano Sekatle told parliament last week that young girls aged between nine and 14 would be vaccinated against cervical cancer starting from January 2022.

He said this after, the Member of Parliament (MP) Tšepang Tšita-Mosena asked him if he is aware that the last time the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was administered in Lesotho was in 2014, and that this has increased the chances of Basotho contracting cancer thus putting a strain on the country’s health budget, and if so how soon the government would embark on sourcing the vaccine. 

In his response, the minister indicated that government was up to the task of ensuring the health of its female population by restoring the vaccine initiative.

“In 2009, the country started to immunize, people against cervical cancer with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which began in two districts, Leribe and Mohale’s Hoek with others following in 2010.

“The vaccination for cervical cancer was stopped in 2015 because of financial problems encountered in the procurement of the vaccine. Because it costs the country $11 to vaccinate one person,” he said.

He indicated that, starting from 2022 January the vaccination for cervical cancer will resume and all girls from the ages of 9 to 14 years will be vaccinated.

“This will happen because the organization that supports the vaccination programs being Global Alliance in Vaccine Initiative with the vaccine manufactures has reached an agreement that the costs of the vaccine be reduced down to $4 per person,” he said.

He indicated that, Lesotho is expected to receive the vaccine between the end of September 2021 and October 2021.

“All girls from 9 to 14 years will receive their first dose and second dose after 12 months because they have to take two doses of the vaccine. The vaccination process will be done at schools with the help of teachers, parents and health professionals as well as community leaders for those not in school,” he said.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV vaccination is very safe, effective, and a long-lasting protection against cancers caused by HPV.

“Common side effects from HPV shots are mild and get better within a day or two and include pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was administered, fever, dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescent then others) nausea, headache or feeling tired and muscle or joint pain.

“To prevent fainting and injuries from fainting, adolescents should be seated or lie down during vaccination and for 15 minutes after getting the shot. Tell the doctor or nurse if your child has any severe allergies, like allergy to latex or yeast,” he said.

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