Saturday, 12 March 2016

Would you rather buy aso-ebi than pay for cervical cancer vaccine?

Women, fashion or your health, which comes first?

You can be sure that only a few women above the age of 40 reading this article would have done a mammogram. Studies have shown that women generally spend more money on cosmetics, shoes and clothes than they do on their health.

Given a choice, it is no exaggeration to say that many Nigerian women would rather spend N30,000 on ‘aso-ebi’ (party cloth) than pay the same amount for a cervical cancer vaccine.

Experts, however, warn that women are at a greater risk of dying of quite a number of diseases compared to men.

Statistics show that 26 Nigerian women die daily of cervical cancer; yet the disease is preventable and curable.

Doctors note that detecting these diseases at an early stage makes them easy to cure. Therefore, every woman must take responsibility and ensure her own safety and wellbeing.

HPV vaccine is not included in the national routine immunisation program in Nigeria, so we would assume that its availability would be limited to private healthcare settings.

You can't blame some women though.

A dose of HPV vaccine in Nigeria is about N30,000 a cost higher than the minimum monthly wage of Nigerians. How many people can afford it? The high price and low health insurance coverage limit access to this essential potentially life-saving vaccine.

For a country that contributes 10% of the cervical cancer burden in this world, the Nigerian government has an ethical obligation to ensure access of all young girls to HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening.

Funding from the Global Access to Vaccines Initiative may make this possible.

For those who can afford it though, do yourself a favour and get vaccinated!