MAHIKENG, SOUTH AFRICA, The Health Department in South Africa's North West Province, in partnership with the Basic Education Department, will be rolling out the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to be administered to schoolgirls.
Beginning this week, teams of health professionals will be visiting all public schools across the province to administer free HPV vaccinations to girls in Grade four, who have already turned nine and older. The first round of the campaign will run until March 28.
The vaccination protects girls before they are sexually active from being infected by HPV and reduces the risk of developing HPV-related cervical cancer later in life. The vaccine was approved for use in in South Africa in 2008 but was previously only available through private outlets.
The government started rolling out the free vaccine to all grade 4 schoolgirls at all public schools in 2014, through the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP).
According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, cancer of the cervix is among the common cancers affecting women in sub-Saharan Africa. Compared with Europeans, women in sub-Saharan Africa are five times more at risk.
The department said the key priority activities before actual implementation of the programme included community mobilization, consultation with school communities and ensuring that parents are informed to make healthy lifelong decisions for their children by providing accurate standardized messages about the vaccine.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK