Because school girls ages between 10 to 13 years “are not yet sexually active and therefore not yet exposed to the virus”, this is the ideal age to be vaccinated for cervical cancer in a nationwide effort to stop the disease in Uganda which cost around $1.34m.
It was revealed on Tuesday by UNEPI program manager, Dr. Robert Mayanja that there is an ongoing campaign to vaccinate schoolgirls ages 10 to 13 years old as a continuation to a pilot program which began in 2010 and conducted in 14 districts.
On Tuesday, to mark the World Immunization Week and to spread media awareness on Uganda immunization services, Dr. Mayanja said during a press meeting at the Kampala Serena Hotel organized in partnership with Merck, a North American non-profit organization, and the health ministry, they were targeting primary schools by providing a schedule when to bring students to be vaccinated at outreaches and health facilities.
“It will be the responsibility of the school to ensure that all their primary four girls (between 10 and 13 years) go to these centers for the cervical cancer vaccination. There are challenges, with some individuals de-campaigning immunization, sabotaging our work, but we shall be working with schools and the local authorities who shall be accountable. We want to use the same opportunity to make sure all the girls who turn up for the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine also are vaccinated against tetanus,” said Mayanja.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancer in women between the age of 15 and 44 in Uganda. An estimated 3,915 women are diagnosed as new cases each year and has claimed the lives of 2,275 women every year.
This certain cancer infects the cervix or the entrance of the womb in a female reproductive organ and can lie dormant for 3 to 15 years without showing any signs of symptoms. If left untreated, it could prove fatal.
80% of the sh4b fund is donated by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), while the remaining 20% is funded by the Uganda government.