HPV shots uptake markedly low in Kathmandu. Only around 600 girls inoculated in nine daysHealth authorities now plan to administer vaccines from schools to increase uptake.
Only around 600 girls between 14 and 15 years from Kathmandu have been inoculated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in nine days, even though the health authorities planned to administer the vaccine to 3,000 girls during the drive.
According to officials at the Kathmandu Health Office, now they plan to administer the vaccine from schools, as other measures failed to increase the vaccine uptake.
“We are in talks with local governments to administer vaccines from schools,” said Sagar Ghimire, chief of the Health Office, Kathmandu. “People are not showing interest in inoculating their daughters against the HPV. Despite the continuation of the awareness drive, vaccine uptake has not increased.”
Nepal received 20,000 doses of the HPV vaccine, enough to vaccinate some 9,500 girls, in the first week of July.
Over 6,000 vaccine doses were allocated for Kathmandu to be administered to 3,000 girls.
Human papillomavirus spreads through skin contact. The virus causes cervical cancer, the second-most common cancer in the developing world and a major cause of death in Nepali women. Hundreds of women are estimated to be diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Nepal.
According to the BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital in Bharatpur, more than 700 women suffering from cervical cancer seek treatment there every year.
Experts say early treatment prevents up to 80 percent of cervical cancer.
The government itself purchased the vaccine doses. Each girl between 11 and 13 needs to be administered two doses of the vaccine over a period of six months.
The Ministry of Health and Population rolled out the vaccine on September 11 from Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Bagmati Province, Koshi Hospital in Biratnagar, Narayani Hospital of Madhesh, Pokhara Academy of Health Sciences of Gandaki, Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj of Lumbini Province, Birendranagar Provincial Hospital of Karnali and Dadeldhura Hospital in Sudurpaschim.
Vaccine doses were targeted for girls between 14 and 15 years. Plans were to complete the vaccination within five days in all provinces. However, due to low uptake, health authorities extended the vaccination until Friday.
Officials blamed the small target group, insufficient vaccine doses and limited immunisation centres for low uptake of vaccine doses. They also concede that continued vaccination of the Coronavirus vaccine for years could be the reason for vaccine hesitancy.
The World Health Organisation says HPV vaccination is recommended as part of a coordinated strategy to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases caused by the virus.