WHO, MOH Intensify HVP Vaccination Awareness Campaign

As part of activities leading to the 76th anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health and the UN Health Organization office in Liberia have intensified vaccination awareness campaigns against human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The vaccine, according to health authorities, can prevent the vast majority of cases and, combined with screening and treatment, provides a path to elimination. These activities are all geared towards commemorating the day. 

Human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection) is caused by a DNA virus from the Papillomaviridae family. Many HPV infections cause no symptoms and 90%.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Dabah M. Varpilah stressed the need for carrying out the initiative in all parts of the country.

Senator Varpilah said every Liberian must have access to preventable, curative and rehabilitative health care.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, and continues to disproportionately impact women and their families in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), according to WHO.

The Grand Cape Mount County Senator said the HPV vaccine is available in most of the health facilities in Liberia, and encouraged parents to take their children for the vaccine.“It is cheap, safe and effective,” she said.

Speaking further, she said the theme of this year’s World Health Day, “My Health, My Right,” resonates “profoundly, particularly when we consider the critical role of HPV vaccination in safeguarding the health of our future generation–you, the young women of Liberia. Cervical cancer is a silent predator, claiming the lives of countless women worldwide each year.” In Liberia alone, she noted, the toll of cervical cancer is overwhelming.

She said in 2023, 656 more were diagnosed with the disease and tragically 469 women lost their lives.

According to her, in spite of the danger cervical cancer poses, the good news is that it can be prevented with a powerful weapon–the HPV vaccine.

“The HPV vaccine stands as a beacon of hope in our fight against cervical cancer. lt is safe, effective, and the most cost-effective method we have to prevent this disease,” added.

She noted that the World Health Organization has put in place a Global Strategy to eliminate cervical cancer and countries, including Liberia, have an obligation to its realization.

The strategy, she noted, recognizes the importance of HPV vaccination and has recommended it for every girl aged 9-14.

Here in Liberia, she assured partners the country is resolute in its commitment to this cause.

With the support of valued partners, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and GAVI, the strategy has outlined targets to be achieved by countries including Liberia by 2030. 

 The aim is to vaccinate 90% of girls by the age of 15, ensure 70% of women between 35 and 45 receive regular checkups for cervical cancer, and that 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment.

These targets, she adds, align seamlessly with our government’s “ARREST” agenda, which seeks to improve healthcare access and outcomes for all Liberians.

WHO County Representative to Liberia, Dr. Clement Peter, said the vaccination will target adolescent girls between the ages of 9–14.

According to him, the vaccination drive, and a series of activities marking this year's celebration of World Health Day have been lined up. They include two blood donation drives, one at the Ministry of Health and another at the United Nations compound, to promote voluntary blood donation and the availability of blood when needed. Another activity includes the distribution of wheelchairs to people living with disabilities.

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create an awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. However, this year’s celebration is held under the theme, “My Health, My Right”. In Liberia, the Ministry of Health and its partners will commemorate the day on April 8th.