The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign of young girls between the ages of nine and 13 for the prevention cervical cancer, started yesterday. The target group is primary school pupils, and the out of school youth.
The HPV is one the many vaccinations that the Government has engaged in previous years. However, vaccinations like this have never encountered resistance from the intended beneficiaries. In most cases, there is scepticism as to what the vaccinations are intended to achieve.
There is always suspicion on the quality of vaccines used, and whether there were no underhand dealings to engage in such vaccines. Secondly, there are tribal or religious groupings who do not believe in what they call ‘modern’ medicine.
They have resisted polio vaccinations in the past, on grounds of religious beliefs. Others have gone to the extent of hiding their children when health workers arrive.
The problem with these vaccination campaigns is poor public education. For some reason, there are Government officials who think that State media are the only platforms where they can educate the public.
We beg to differ. It is evident that majority of people no longer depend on Government media for information, for various reasons. We implore the concerned officers to shift and adapt new methods of communicating with, and educating the public.
As for the HPV campaign; we hope that the public will cooperate so as to save the girl child from developing cancer. Statistics show that cervical cancer has become a silent and serious killer, which should not be allowed to develop and take root.
“Cervical cancer is a public health priority in Botswana. It is the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in the country and is most common in women aged 30 to 49, an age when their health and support is critical to the wellbeing of their family,” said Shenaaz el Halabi during a press conference last week.
This is the age group that is economically productive, and also active in family matters such as taking care their own families, and of the aging members of society.
In many instances they are single mothers who have to fend for these families and make sure that there is bread on the table. The good news is that Botswana is among the few countries that have engaged in this mission that was sanctioned by World Health Organisation.
“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child”
- Sophia Loren