About 85% young girls across the country aged 10 to 14 years have to date, received the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine set out to prevent cervical cancer in women, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira has said.
Briefing journalists on the HPV Vaccine Roll Out Programme last week Friday, Manangazira said the School-based approach managed to reach the majority of the girls with the HPV vaccine and attained a high coverage.
“The country achieved the 85% (759 454) of the set target but 101% of the revised target, HPV was Vaccine well accepted in the communities as evidenced by the requests to extend the age eligibility,
“In the absence of the consultants, the health promotion officers and health teams at all levels worked hard to ensure International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) materials were done, translated, pretested and printed,
“Support from both local and international Partners contributed to the successful launch and implementation of the programme,” she said.
She added that there was political will from the government specifically the Media Launch and endorsement by the ministers of Health and Education, HPV Launch by the First Lady, engagement of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the health ministry funded allowances for the outreach teams.
However plans were well drawn up but timely implementation faced some challenges which include late disbursement of funds delayed training of health workers, school health coordinators, delays in recruitment of international and national consultants for communication and late distribution of data collection tools and girls vaccination cards.
“Prior registration of eligible girls faced challenges of verifying ages in the absence of birth certificates because of school holiday, non-acceptance of the vaccine by some parents due to their religion and some school policies requiring parental consents
“Lack of incentives for local staff during such campaigns resulting in disgruntled health workers such as Environmental Health Technicians ( EHTs), Health Information Officers and school health coordinators, rains and bad roads and poor terrain during the campaign disrupted the vaccination programmes in some areas,” added Manangazira.
Moving forward, the programme was extended to continue with vaccinations until the 18th of June 2018 to mop up.