MORE than 5000 girls in Dar es Salaam region have been vaccinated against cervical cancer since the vaccination campaign rolled out last April. The number is part of the targeted 24,097 girls to be reached in the fight against Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) which causes the disease.
]The exercise intends to immunise girls aged 14 years old, to start with, during this year, and the government plans to extend the vaccination to the rest of the girls countrywide.
Speaking with the 'Sunday News' in Dar es Salaam yesterday about the development of the provision of the vaccine, Regional Coordinator for Maternal and Child Health, Ms Ziada Sellah, said all children who have reached 14 years in January until May have been vaccinated. "
We will ensure that we reach our goal, and I encourage parents to allow their daughters to get the HPV vaccine as there are no serious side effects from this type of vaccine and no permanent health risk," she said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, the East African region is the leading burden carrier of cervical cancer and the recent report from WHO suggests that Tanzania is among the five countries with the highest rates in Africa.
Ms Sellah said the vaccine was provided in 270 centres, including schools and health centres in all the five municipalities of Ilala, Kinondoni, Ubungo, Temeke and Kigamboni.
Expounding further, she said the response of children was very positive and there was a large turnout, which raised fear that the vaccine might not be adequate because even street girls who failed to register came out to get vaccinated.
However, she said in the beginning there were few misconceptions that the vaccine carries health risks which brought fear among the people, leading to concerns that their children might suffer, but added that through awareness campaigns conducted their fears were put to rest.
The coordinator said after the campaign, parents with daughters above 14 brought their children to receive the vaccine. "We will stick to our target, and even though their children have not started to engage themselves in sexual activities,
vaccinating them will be against our plan of reaching only girls aged 14," she elaborated. Tanzania is the seventh African country to introduce the HPV vaccine into its routine immunisation programme after Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa