Figure 1 Girls and boys during the Chiwavi HPV campaign
Several hundred people turned out for a vaccination campaign funded by Developing Radio Partners in Northern Malawi, our radio partner, the Voice of Livingstonia Radio (VOL) organized the event in partnership with Mzuzu Health centre in Chiwavi Township. The goal: vaccinate as many girls as possible against Human Papillomavirus or HPV – which can cause cervical cancer. In total, VOL’s event led to the vaccination of more than 200 girls on June 24, 2022.
Margret Chapasi Nyirenda, the Deputy Extended Program on Immunization Coordinator for the district, says the huge volume of vaccinations during this radio campaign pleasantly surprised authorities at the facility. She says the campaign is a huge milestone, as most girls rarely visit the facility. Nyirenda says on a normal day, the facility vaccinates about ten girls, which means as a result of the event the same number of girls were vaccinated in one day that the facility typically vaccinates in a whole month.
Nyirenda commended VOL Radio, saying, “We are really grateful to VOL for the support that it has accorded to our district, because this is an initiative that aims at reducing cancer. We have managed to reach out to 220 girls, a thing which could not have happened if we just waited for girls to come to the facility.”
Manjawira Msowoya heard about the campaign on VOL and brought her 11-year old granddaughter to the vaccination campaign. She told one reporter: “What VOL has done is commendable especially by bringing these services right to the doorstep, because most of the time parents don’t send their girl children to the hospital to get vaccinated because transport fares are high, as such they just stay home.”
Msowoya also urged fellow parents whose religious beliefs prevent them from getting their children vaccinated, to revisit their beliefs. Msowoya said that the HPV vaccine is very good for young girls because it protects them from cervical cancer and makes them become healthy mothers in the future.
The chairperson of the Mapale Youth Club, Prayers Ndovi, noted that reaching out to the girls through this radio campaign is impactful because the girls will grow up knowledgeable about cervical cancer, and they will be better equipped to care for themselves through their adolescence and adulthood.
Speaking at the event attended by an estimated 600 people, VOL Station Manager Themba Mwale said the success of the HPV vaccination campaign has energized his office to do more on community-centered interventions. Mwale said he’s currently reviewing the program schedule to include more campaigns that will speak to youth, women, the elderly, and all marginalized groups.
He’s also encouraging local organizations to work with VOL, through its programming and direct community interventions, so that together the lives of Malawians can be improved.
Blessings Ngwira, a representative from the district social welfare office, who also spoke at the event, noted that such interventions are crucial to improving the health status of women and girls – adding that parents must encourage their daughters to get vaccinated.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women worldwide and Malawi has the highest mortality rate related to cervical cancer.
The community event was funded in part by Developing Radio Partners.
Written by: Rhoda Msiska, Mentor and Youth Reporter, Voice of Livingstonia Radio
Edited by: Elle Eyestone and Charles Rice