Response to your article on HPV

The Ministry of Health wishes to react to a news article that appeared in Mmegi Newspaper (20 February, 2015) captured as follows: Even before the Ministry of Health (MoH) has started administering the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in primary schools, some parents have expressed their skepticism.

In a snap survey parents indicated that they did not understand anything about HPV and could not allow their children to be vaccinated.

The Health Ministry wishes to assure the public that the HPV vaccine is safe for their children. HPV vaccine prevents infection from HPV types which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer worldwide, It also protects against types that cause anal and genital warts. The vaccine is given as an injection on the arm muscle, under the strict supervision of a health worker, and is administered in a 2 dose schedule.

HPV is not known to have many severe side effects. The most common side effects are pain or itching on the injection site. Mild effects include; rashes, fever, headache, dizziness and nausea. These symptoms do not last long and clear on their own. Parents are advised to take their children to the nearest health facility for assessment and management by health workers should they experience any side effects.

The ministry should be commended for introducing the HPV vaccine earlier than it was anticipated. And as with every new vaccine, the vaccine was tried in three districts being Kweneng East, Kweneng West and Selibe Phikwe to draw lessons from the HPV vaccine demonstration and to improve HPV vaccination activities and directly inform plans for the national roll out and introduction of future new vaccine, through this exercise the Ministry achieved 97% coverage.

It is regrettable that some parents are ignorant of the HPV information and the Governments’ intention to help the girl child. However, the ministry, through its DHTS will continue to educate parents and the public through radio, television and newspapers on what HPV is, what it does and the role that each one of us can play.

For the introduction of the HPV vaccine, the following activities are ongoing:

l Spot announcements have been sent to various radio stations both public and private and started airing from February 10 and 11, 2015 and will end on 27 February, 2015.

l Placements of adverts in different newspapers from the February 12- 27, 2015.

l Media sensitisation workshop on Thursday February 19, 2015.

l Interview of HPV focal officer on radio and television sensitizing members of the public about the vaccine,

l Materials with HPV information given to DHMT’s to share with the community.

l Some districts had mini launches to raise awareness on this event

l Consultations with PTA members, parents and students were done. We, however, note the concerns of the parents and we will step up the campaign and information dissemination, Parents are equally urged to help protect their daughters from cervical cancer by getting them vaccinated and reading more on HPV. 

We appreciate the efforts that are being made by local newspapers to sensitise the public on the HPV vaccine .

* Doreen F.Motshegwa

CPRM Communications and Public


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