The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is set to initiate a comprehensive vaccination campaign by the end of this year. The campaign will specifically target pre-adolescents aged 9 to 14 across the nation.
The initiative comes in response to the alarming rate of cervical cancer cases in Ghana, prompting health authorities to focus on immunizing adolescents before they become sexually active.
Dr. Kwame Amponsah-Achiano, the Programmes Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Ghana Health Service, underscored the critical importance of administering a two-dose vaccine for each child.
“Because we have already done a pilot which was to learn lessons, we will roll out a nationwide vaccination, and our focus is usually on young people before they start their sexual debut. So by the end of the year, we should have started the vaccination,” Dr. Amponsah-Achiano stated.
“While we were doing the piloting, we had to give three doses, then it came to two, and now we are talking of one, but the one dose is also premised on the fact that we need to have a well-established screening, but we are likely to do two doses because that is the best card put forward”, he added.
According to data from the ICO/IARC Information Centre on HPV and Cancer, Ghana is home to approximately 10.6 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Statistics reveal that every year, 2797 women in Ghana are diagnosed with cervical cancer, resulting in 1699 deaths. Cervical cancer ranks as the second most frequent cancer among Ghanaian women and the second most common cancer among women aged 15 to 44.
While specific data on the HPV burden in the general population of Ghana is not yet available, regional estimates for Western Africa, to which Ghana belongs, suggest that approximately 4.3% of women harbor cervical HPV16/18 infection at any given time, with 55.6% of invasive cervical cancers attributed to HPVs 16 or 18.