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Zambia Fights HPV in Girls

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

Zambia has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. Ninety of every 100,000 Zambian women get the disease. The Zambian government recently launched a program to vaccinate schoolgirls against the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The virus can cause cervical cancer. HPV can spread through sexual contact.

The government hopes to vaccinate schoolgirls between the ages of 9 and 11 against HPV. The program was launched in May at several schools. One of them is the Kalingalinga Primary School in Lusaka. About 100 students there received the HPV vaccine. Euphrasia Mweshi Mutale is a teacher. She was involved in efforts to inform the community about what was expected to be a difficult subject. Ms. Mutale is happy with the early results. She says people involved in the program met with parents and teachers to tell them why it is good to vaccinate the girls. She notes there have been no reported side effects from the vaccine, like high body temperature or skin discoloration.

Mulindi Mwanahamuntu is a director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia. He says health officials wanted to vaccinate 25,000 girls. But he says there was some resistance from churches and other groups. Zambian and international health officials are working to end the resistance by educating communities about medical issues. Zambia is third on the World Health Organization's list of countries with the highest death rates from cervical cancer. The country also has the highest cervical cancer rate in Africa.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.

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