News / Health

    Zambia Launches HPV Vaccination Program

    Girls wear matching raincoats as they wait along a roadside during a rain shower in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, (File photo).
    Girls wear matching raincoats as they wait along a roadside during a rain shower in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, (File photo).
    Zambia has one of the highest cervical cancer rates in the world, with 90 out of every 100,000 women contracting the preventable disease.  The government is now rolling out a program to vaccinate school girls against the Human Papilloma Virus - which causes cervical cancer.  The Lusaka program is being quickly hailed as an early success.
     
    Children attending a fourth-grade class at any primary school learned the country is Africa’s largest copper producer.  But none have been taught the country tops the list of nations in the world with a high rate of cancer of the cervix.
     
    Zambia is looking to change that by immunizing girls between the ages of 9 - 11 against the Human Papilloma Virus,  which is the main cause of cervical cancer.  The key is to vaccinate girls before they are sexually active, since that is how HPV is transmitted.
     
    Roll-out

    Zambia began rolling out the vaccination program in May at selected primary schools around the country.
     
    Kalingalinga Primary School in the capital Lusaka is one of them, and here about 100 pre-teen girls have so far received the HPV vaccine.
     
    Euphrasia Mweshi Mutale is a teacher and one of the people involved in sensitizing the community about what was expected to be a sensitive subject.  She said she is happy with the results so far.

    "In the first place we went for sensitization meeting with parents from the community and some teachers.  We were sensitized on the goodness of the HPV vaccine.  The response is quite overwhelming," she explained. "Almost 100 percent of the girls have been vaccinated.”
     
    Mutale also attributes the initial success to the fact there have been no immediate reported side effects from the vaccine, such as a high fever or skin rash.
     
    Hurdles

    The co-director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia, Dr. Mulindi Mwanahamuntu, said health authorities, working with co-operating partners, undertook to vaccinate 25,000 girls in the first phase.

    “In the schools that were selected, so far we have vaccinated 96 percent of the intended target.  Now that is a very good response," Mwanahamuntu said.
     
    But the doctor noted the program will have to overcome some pockets of hesitancy to be fully effective.
     
    “We still have resistance; we still have people that believe in myths.  Now there are groups, I do not want to stigmatize groups, but there are groups of people, for example certain churches, that try to resist this.  But also, there are cultural norms.  The very fact that it is given to the pre-sexual years it would indicate to others that we are permitting children therefore to go out and have sex,” Mulindi said.
     
    Outreach

    In an effort to combat misinformation, Zambian and international health officials are reaching out to communities in various ways.
     
    U.N. physician and cancer activist Dr. Pelum-Hazeley, who hosts a regular local radio phone-in program called Celebrating Life, said she aims to educate her callers on the real benefits and potential side effects so they can make the right medical decisions for their children.
     
    “We just have to continue educating the people because if someone has had a complication, and of course there are reasons why there are complications.  It does not necessarily mean the same thing is going to happen here," Pelum-Hazeley explained. "Because I am a cancer activist and I believe, my intention, my aim is to help the people as much as possible to be educated and my emphasis is on prevention.”
     
    The World Health Organization ranks Zambia as having the third highest mortality rate from cervical cancer and ranks highest in Africa.  It strikes down women in their prime of life and yet it is an entirely preventable disease.
     
    That is why Dr. Pelum-Hazeley and other health activists are working hard to make sure the HPV vaccination program is a success in Zambia.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora