The Ministry of Health has called on the media to take a leading role in popularising the forthcoming HPV Vaccine Campaign for its success.
The ministry will, from January 20 to 24, carry out the second phase of the campaign targeting nine-year-old girls for the first dose and 10-year-old girls for the second phase to protect them against cervical cancer.
Speaking in Salima on Monday during a day-long workshop for journalists from the Southern Region, the ministry’s deputy director of preventive health services responsible for health education services Mavuto Thomas said there are many myths on the vaccine which could affect the success of the campaign.
About 500 000 girls aged nine and 10 are targeted in the first and second doses respectively.
Thomas described the media as critical to sensitising the public on the importance of the vaccine.
He said: “Some people are spreading false information, saying once the girls get the vaccine they will have challenges bearing children in future. They say this is a deliberate move to control population. Let me emphasise here that this is not true. There is no proof whatsoever that the vaccine can interfere with fertility.”
A statement signed by Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dan Namarika states that the exercise will be conducted through the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in all government and private primary schools, all health facilities, both public and Cham, some private health facilities and all under five clinics.
Reads the statement in part: “The ministry is calling on all parents, guardians and teachers to ensure that young girls who received the cervical cancer vaccine in January last year receive their second dose and those that are now aged nine receive their first dose of the vaccine.
“The ministry further calls on all stakeholders to support this initiative to ensure that all young girls are protected against cervical cancer.”
Government introduced the vaccine in January 2019 in line with World Health Organisation recommendation.
Last year, the vaccine was administered in 12 035 sites and a total of 232 729 girls were vaccinated with the first dose against the targeted population of 280 862.
In Malawi, 4 163 cases of cervical cancer are recorded every year. About 2 879 women die of cervical cancer in the country annually.