CAMEROON: Catholic Bishops Express Worry on Cervical Cancer Vaccine

NKONGSAMBA, NOVEMBER 10, 2020 (CISA) – Bishop Dieudonné Antangana of the Catholic Diocese of Nkongsamba has banned the administration of cervical cancer vaccine in schools and health centers within the diocese, urging parents to wait for direction from the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon.

“I hereby formally ask you to keep away from submitting our children to this vaccine while waiting for the bishops of Cameroon to be able to give their clear official agreement,” Bishop Antangana said in a pastoral note dated November 5.

The bishop also outlawed the admission of medical teams associated with the vaccine within the structures of the diocese.

Nkongsamba diocese is the second diocese in Cameroon to prohibit the administration of the vaccine after Obala diocese on grounds that the vaccine it is “incomplete and untimely” on girls aged between 9 and 13.

According to Fr Luc Onambele, the Vicar General of Obala Diocese and a PhD holder in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, the Gardasil administered on the girls is incomplete since but it is only efficient for types 16 and 18 cancerous lesions yet there are 18 types of Human Papillomavirus, HPV which cause cervical cancer.

“Gardasil in no way changes the development of the infection in sick women, reason why it is administered on girls aged between 9 and 13 meanwhile girls of this age group were least represented during clinical trials,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of 45th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon Bishop Abraham Kome president of the conference also expressed fears on the vaccines.

“We have doubts and in case of doubt, it is necessary to abstain,” he said, calling for in-depth studies on the vaccine.

“I think that we are completely in our role, to say that there are doubts which deserve to be dispelled, before their inoculation,” he added.

The Cameroonian Muslim community has also opposed the administration of Gardasil through the organization Muslims for Cooperation and Development (MCD).

The vaccine was launched by the government in an Expanded Vaccination Program and to be given to girls beginning at age 9 to protect against cancers caused by HPV.