Govt receives HPV, rotavirus vaccines

HARARE - The much-awaited rotavirus and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are finally in the country, a cabinet minister has revealed.

The drug consignment was delayed because storage facilities in the country were not ready to receive the drugs.

Rotavirus vaccine prevents diarrhoea in children under the age of five while the HPV vaccine is a prophylactic vaccine which stimulates the body’s immune system to produce neutralising antibodies, which kill HPV, which causes cervical cancer in the skin cells of a woman’s genital area.

“We have the vaccine,” Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said on Friday. “It is being distributed to various provinces but we need to educate our people first on things like what are the benefits and how does it affects our population, are there any side effects, rinobayiwa here? ndere kunwa here? The HPV is now there too.”

But government says an education programme and a demonstration are preceding the actual roll-out of the rotavirus and HPV vaccination respectively.

“You remember we once did the bilharzia vaccination and people said you did not educate us. So we need to do that first. If you go there when the child has tonsillitis and is vaccinated with rotavirus, because of that temperature, the child will be affected,” he said.

“Education will help us tell people that if a child has temperature, that child should not be vaccinated. I have told our team we want that period to educate people so that everybody knows and they will not point at you and say, you should have told us. We need them to take ownership.”

Three children from Harare and Hatcliff allegedly died end of last year after taking bilharzia drugs during a national anti-bilharzia programme.

At least 4 000 children from Marondera and Masvingo are  earmarked for the HPV pilot programme. The minister referred detailed questions to director of epidemiology and disease control Portia Manangazira, who was said to be out of the country.

“The HPV vaccines are there but it will not be done now,” he said. “Now there is a demonstration. General Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) requirements demand that countries have a pilot programme first then the roll out. The exact details like is it going to be school based, all of those questions will be answered through that demonstration.”

According to the latest weekly report from the ministry, about 6 500 cases of the 12 800 cases of diarrhoea recorded constituted children under five years while cervical cancer is officially said to be constituting 32 percent of all cancer cases in Zimbabwe.

Currently, Zimbabweans are relying on private doctors to prescribe the vaccine on their predisposed children.

Parents are forking out at least $30 for the diarrhoea vaccine. The government programme will guarantee the immunity of all children particularly those born to poor parents against the deadly virus.

“Yes rotavirus, some people are charging too much but ours will be for free,” the minister said.

Comments (2)

thank you hurumende

alex - 10 April 2014

thank you, after a long wait tho especially since all the surrounding countries had the vaccine already. hopefully it would have been administered before winter sets in since we have to first educate the people and winter seems to have come early this year. but well done

rutendo - 20 April 2014

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