Dar es Salaam. In a move to vaccinate a large number of girls against cervical cancer, health practitioners at vaccinating centres have come up with a strategy to involve local government leaders at village and ward levels to help identify girls.
By collaborating with health experts, the leaders will be helping identify girls including those out of school as well as those living with HIV/Aids.
The District Immunization and Vaccination officer at Songwe hospital, Mr Miraji Kanyonje, told The Citizen that their target was to reach 7,762 primary and secondary school girls this year.
“In a joint effort with villagers, we have so far provided the first dose to 2,816 girls (108 percent) and second dose to 1,912 girls between January and April, 2021. We provide the vaccine to at least 647 girls each month,” he said.
Explaining, Mr Kanyonge said both the first and second dose are provided after provision of education to parents as well as students at their respective schools whereas health teachers are directly involved in identifying the qualified groups of girls.
The HPV+ project which includes the provision of integrated health services such as sexual reproductive health, eye testing and nutrition education to the girls is implemented by Jhpiego in collaboration with the government through the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) and ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children with funding from and UNICEF Tanzania.
According to him, they find it easy to vaccinate girls while at school because some of them cannot be reached easily as they stay in remote areas. He stressed that despite some parents being reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated, the exercise has so far been well received by many people.
Immunisation and Vaccination Officer at Faraja dispensary in Tunduma Lunyili Vincent said collaboration with villagers has enabled them to vaccinate four HIV positive girls. They were tracked through our care and treatment clinics (CTC).” Mr Vicent said they track and vaccinate girls living with HIV/Aids because they are the most vulnerable to cervical cancer. He said that HIV infected girls receive three doses of HPV because their body immunity is low. In Tunduma town, he said, the target is to reach 1,896 girls this year whereas a total of 1,400 school girls have been provided with the first dose.
He said they expect to start administering the second dose soon after schools re-open in July and August this year.