A Medical expert, Dr Adora Momodu, has identified poor knowledge, poverty and cultural beliefs as some of the major barriers hindering uptake of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer.
Momodu, who works with an NGO, Sebeccly Cancer Care, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
She spoke on the sidelines of a free cervical screening exercise organised by the NGO for female members of staff of NAN in commemoration of the cervical cancer awareness month marked every January.
According to her, the HPV vaccine comes in three doses and each dose costs N15, 000.
“Not many people are aware of the vaccine and its availability and not many centres have access to the vaccine including many primary healthcare centres.
“Also, poverty contributes to why many people do not get the HPV vaccine; minimum wage is below 18,000.
“So, how many people can afford N45, 000 to even get the vaccine?
“In our environment, we have a care free attitude toward health and so, people do not see the reason to get the vaccine.
“There is also the issue of traditional beliefs; people do not like to be injected with things they do not know or they are not aware of, instead they believe it causes more harm than good.
“All these issues hinder the uptake of the HPV vaccine,“ she said.
The officer said that the awareness level about cervical cancer among the populace was poor.
Momodu said that this translated to poor presentation at the hospitals, which led to the incidence of people dying from cervical cancer.
According to her, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, where I works, at every clinic day, the doctors roughly see about 100 new cases.
“In Nigeria population of over 180 million, about 55 per cent are women; therefore, about 55 per cent of women are prone to cervical cancer.
“Cervical cancer is very common. Statistics have shown that one in every 20 women, who are sexually active, is at risk of the condition. Therefore, the need to enlighten ourselves,“ Momodu said.
Also, Miss Elizabeth Oshinowo, the Coordinator, Time-to-Screen Unit, Sebeccly Cancer Care, said that over the past 14 years, the NGO had screened over 4,000 women in Nigeria and some countries in West Africa.
Oshinowo said: “Unfortunately, among those women screened, we detected 30 cases with breast cancer.
“The good thing about this is we were able to detect these cancers at their early stage; so these women have a higher chance of survival.
“For cervical cancer screening, we detected 21 women that have pre-cancerous lesion, a stage zero of cervical cancer, thereby, allowing us to quickly act on it, giving prompt treatment and taking off the lesion.
“These women will not have cervical cancer in future and we will like to encourage women to please get screened. “ (NAN)