Is the cervical cancer vaccine dangerous to health? To this question, many Cameroonians answer in the affirmative on forums. At a time when the Ministry of Public Health is launching a vaccination campaign against this disease, several Cameroonians remain convinced that this pharmaceutical product is dangerous to health and fertility.
To contain these prejudices, Dr. Phanuel Habimana, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s representative in Cameroon, published a note on 23 October to shed light on this much-talked-about vaccine. "The World Health Organization reiterates and confirms, once again, the safety and efficiency of vaccination against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and its contribution to the elimination of cervical cancer. The WHO reiterates its recommendation that HPV vaccination is an effective strategy for cervical cancer prevention and control, and underlines the scientific basis for this recommendation," the official writes.
Dr. Phanuel Habimana says that since the vaccine’s approval in 2006, more than 270 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed. The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) has reviewed HPV vaccine safety data several times since 2007 and has monitored millions of vaccines from various countries to assess potential HPV vaccination-related adverse effects.
"In a systematic review of data from 73,697 people commissioned by the WHO in 2017, the results showed no significant differences in terms of serious adverse effects, including medically significant illnesses, the onset of chronic diseases and deaths between individuals exposed to the HPV vaccine and those who were not," the doctor said. He added that there is ample scientific evidence that countries that have introduced the vaccine into their programmes have achieved a 50% reduction in the incidence rate of precancerous cervical lesions in women.
To combat uterine cancer, the representative suggests the combination of this primary prevention strategy (vaccination of girls aged 9 to 14 against HPV) with secondary prevention strategies (screening and treatment of precancerous lesions in women aged 30 and over) tertiary prevention (diagnosis and treatment of invasive cervical cancer in all women, as appropriate) and palliative care.